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.

Angels Can Do No More

Para español, haga clic aquí.

in memory of Dad…

Dear Lindsey,

It was a cold, rainy day when I walked into the thermodynamics exam at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. I was broke – instant coffee for breakfast, followed by a ½-can Spaghettios lunch and the other half for dinner (Don’t tell my mom.) – kind of broke. I didn’t have the newest calculator that was sweeping the engineering geeks by storm: the “Scientific” one. My free solar version from the summer bank-telling job was barely helpful in the interpolation of the hundreds of pages of tables and figures in the back of my thermodynamics book. Nothing was helping me figure out WHICH table to use. My lack of sleep (from staying up studying half the night) and lack of breakfast probably only exacerbated my lack of knowledge for the subject at hand: thermo, as we affectionately called it.

I could hardly believe when the buzzer sounded that the test was done. Had I written down ANY answers? I felt like I had spent the entire hour thumbing through tables, trying to remember which one to use! The heaviness was felt through all of my classmates as we exited the room. Nobody felt great about the exam, but I didn’t even feel like I had completed it!  I contemplated, “What IF I got the ones right where I had at least written down an answer? Maybe I would get a 50%??” Ugh. Failure.

When I returned to my dorm, I called my dad. (Because in the ancient days, phones were actually hooked to the wall.  They had a long cord attached that – with the right angling – could clear all contents off any desktop. SO I had to wait till I got to my dorm to call my dad. But I digress.) Along with a quirky sense of humor (like when I took a picture of the “chip on his shoulder” below), Dad and I shared a love for engineering, and he loved if I called about anything – especially engineering!

Once, I was stuck on optics and the science behind light prisms. My professor, Dr. Young,

Chip on Shoulder dad

was one of the authors of the textbook, written by Sears, Zemansky and Young. His name increased the book’s cost to $250, and his class required the “new edition,” so we couldn’t purchase it cheaply from former students. (Did this dude know I was eating ½-can Spaghettios meals?) I knew asking this professor any question about prisms would avail no different explanation than what was already in the book, since he had authored it! When I called Dad, he promptly sent me his engineering book from thirty-four years prior, (Who saves these things?!) so I could see what it had to say about prisms. I was shocked when I opened the package to find that his book’s explanation of prisms looked the exact same as mine! His book’s authors? “Sears and Zemansky.” $4.

Fast-forward to my thermo-failing day, and I called Dad. I wasn’t really looking for engineering help this time. I think I was just looking for a shoulder to hold my tears. I told him I thought I had failed my test… with less than a 50. He said, “This is the first time? Oh that happened to me a lot! Haha!”

I wasn’t laughing. Basically choking a cry.

“Well, I haven’t thought about thermo tests in years,” he said.  “Did you try your hardest and give it your best?”

“Yes!” I said, emphasizing my belief in my word. “I did! I re-did all the homework so I knew what I was doing; I stayed up half the night re-reading, understanding! I thought I was READY!”

That’s when he said something that has impacted my thinking ever since:

“Well if you did your best, then angels can do no more.”

What?! He wasn’t going to be mad at me for my bad grade?! He wasn’t going to lecture me on what I should have done? He wasn’t going to try to get me riled up to protest the teacher for making it hard? He was just going to leave it like this?!

I haven’t thought about thermodynamics or exams in a few decades, but one day my son woefully told me that he had bombed his science exam. I remember the car ride home from one of his first weeks of high school, hearing him go on and on about the injustice that it was too hard, the self-abasing comments about “how stupid he was,” and even sibling comparison on how he’ll never be as good as his older brother.

I finally cut off his words and said, “Did you do your best?”

“WHAT?!!!” His choleric personality took those as fighting words and he began strongly arguing, “YES!! I DID! I did everything I knew how to do to get ready for this stupid test!”

And I passed on my dad’s advice, “Then angels can do no more.”

Leadership gurus say it this way, “You can’t be guaranteed success; you can only deserve it.” [but be sure you deserve it.]

Girlfriend, as life goes on, I see some places where maybe I got proverbial A’s to show for my massive effort, but I see many other places where I have set goals and reset goals and reset goals and felt like such a failure at the lack of completion. I always feel like I have to pick myself up by the bootstraps and ask, “Did I really do my best? My BEST?!  REALLY?! Then angels can do no more!” When my best isn’t good enough for success in God’s timing, then at least my best effort gives a cushion in the waiting room.

My strong-personality son finished that bad-test-day with some words beyond his years. As evening approached, he quietly came to me and said, “Mom, do you know you are not like other moms? All my friends get into trouble for bad grades. You and Dad are the only ones I know who would tell me something like you did today. If you had punished me for my grade, I wouldn’t have wanted to try harder next time; I wouldn’t have wanted to try at all.”

I guess I, too, had a dad who was not like other dads. He helped me get an A in things that matter.

Blessings,

Terri

Col 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”

Dad n me

Dad and me, chillin’.

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A Cookie Kind of Grace

Para español, haga clic aquí.

Dear Lindsey,

One mother bragged, “My son spent a thousand dollars on me, buying me a new coat!”

Another topped, “Well, my son spent tens of thousands on me, buying me a new car!”

“Really? That’s nothing!” said a third, “My son spends hundreds of dollars every WEEK talking to a therapist about nothing but ME!”

I have felt like that third mother sometimes – it might be my kids saying it one day!

Whether they were good, bad or ugly, parents leave indelible prints on our lives. Recently losing my amazing father four years after my mother has left some holes in my heart for sure. When parents pass the baton, it feels like a heavy responsibility to hold, while the foundation on which we stand has just gained a giant HOLE!  Although my dad’s public “celebration of life” is waiting out the pandemic’s ban on gatherings and traveling, nothing stops me from writing some things about Dad to celebrate! I figured I could catch up in writing a few memories to YOU!

Dad’s are important. Duh.

“In an analysis of over 100 studies on parent-child relationships, it was found that having a loving and nurturing father was as important for a child’s happiness, well-being, and social and academic success as having a loving and nurturing mother.” I have heard that a father’s relationship with his daughter may have the single most relational impact on her view of her Heavenly Father. Yet, research indicates that, among other advantages, sons who feel a closeness and warmth with their father are twice as likely to enter college and 80 percent less likely to be incarcerated. I don’t say all these things to say mothers aren’t important, but just to celebrate the man I called, “Dad,” because I had a great one!  I am grateful for his impact on my life;  he gave me every advantage in the book. I always wanted a husband who would influence my children the same way. (And God blessed me with him!).

To kick off my “celebration of Dad’s life,” let’s start with the “peanut butter cookies” story, since it’s a favorite. I have told it before when Shouting Out to Dads, but I was surprised how many mentioned it to me when hearing of my recent loss. This great memory not only makes me want to be a better person, but teach my kids what “grace” really means.

 

Dad Grace

It was a “bad” day when I was a teen. I had wanted to give my brothers a special treat of PB cookiespeanut butter cookies. (I was always such the perfect sister and the innocent victim in every story…because I am the one writing it today; ha! It didn’t hurt that peanut butter cookies were my favorite, too.) I prepared the dough and put the cookies into the oven, and per normal went to kill the 8-minutes of cooking time playing the piano. The piano must have been louder than the kitchen timer, because the cookies ended up burning. I had put too many in the oven, too, so most of the batch was instantly ruined. Of course my brothers came into the kitchen at that exact moment, while the stench of the burn choked any house occupants. I was embarrassed.  They laughed, asking if I was using the smoke detector as my timer again. One grabbed a cookie and headed outside, saying he was going to play hockey with it – “anyone want to join me?” he yelled back.

It was then that my father returned from his long day at work. I sat, dejected, ready to hear the words of shock from him too, as I lamented my error. My father (silently of course) walked over to the cookie trays which were still cooling (smoking?) on the counter, scanned the goods, grabbed a cookie and stated, “Great! Someone finally made cookies just the way I like them!”  He proceeded to eat burnt cookie after burnt cookie, like Cookie Monster in bliss. My face softened to a grin.  I don’t know what kind of work day my dad had had at the glass-making facility, but I know what kind of day he helped me to have.

In my adult years when I reminded him of this story, he claimed he didn’t remember it. That’s just who he was. And it’s who I want to be: someone willing to happily eat burnt cookies, taking seen and unseen burdens off of someone else. That’s grace. That was my DAD!!

Love ya, miss ya,

Terri

grace |ɡrās| noun: 

      1. courteous goodwill:
      2. (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners through Jesus Christ .
boatdad

Dad 1935-2020

 

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The Robber in the Church Choir

Para español, haga clic aquí (coming soon)

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

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

Related Articles:

  1. Finding a Character to Marry (How to Find a Spouse)
  2. If I Am to Be Queen, I Shall Be a Good One
  3. Balloon Ride to Rome

Without Rain (Things in my Head…now)

Lindsey,

Hi! I just wanted to give you my year’s story:)

I think you know that eight years ago I had a life-threatening brain tumor. My kids were only toddlers, and the surgery was extremely rough, but truly went better than anyone had predicted. I recovered completely without paralysis, but they were unable to get “clear boundaries” because of the tumor’s proximity to a main vein in the brain.

At the 5-year mark, a doctor told me my chances were much less of recurrence, and I could come every 2-3 years. (-which was nice because MRI’s are expensive!) My husband said, “no.” He didn’t see why we wouldn’t check it every year. I think his exact words were, “I have more money and only one wife: you need to go every year.”

So last January I went for my annual scan, and for the first time in 7 years, they called me back that they had found something and I needed to have it rescanned.

The rescan eight weeks later showed more definition, and what looked like growth so they sent me to Duke Neuro-Oncology within a few weeks. The specialist called it a meningioma (same name as last time) and said that growth was questionable but that it was so small (“blueberry” size) he wanted me to wait until this January and then we would decide radiation or surgery.

I’ll skip recording here all of my emotions of screaming Nooooo!! We can just say I didn’t peacefully and joyfully say, “well, to God be the glory!” …at least not at first. I prayed – and asked a few sweet friends to pray – that I would “let go of this basket,” the same as Moses’ mother did, but sometimes I would reel it back in as though attached with fishing line. Every little headache seemed to say I was headed down an old familiar brain tumor path, and I tried to talk myself into thinking it was “all in my head” (pun intended).  Every travel I planned, or commitment I made for this spring was weighed down, wondering if I would be able to follow through with it.  Yet I knew I was as good as dead if I decided to stop living while I waited for the next test.  I had to accept it one day at a time.

“My daily bread…” was something Jesus taught us to ask. (Matt 6:11) As I awaited the long, drawn-out period, I often thought how He didn’t say monthly bread or even weekly bread; He said DAILY bread – so I tried to be satisfied with His daily promises and stop asking for the month or year of provisions to be satisfying.

I made some health changes in hopes I was doing my best to either avoid surgery, or ready my body to endure it.

Last week, my husband and I had the appointment with the Duke Neuro-oncologist. He gave us the great news that the scan showed it was STILL a blueberry; he is not worried about it and thought it might even only be scar tissue. He told me he didn’t need to see me for THREE years!!

I praise God for this fantastic news!! Though I didn’t feel like telling everyone along the way, (some roller coasters are better ridden alone) now I feel like shouting it from the mountaintop!!

While I bask in the joy of answered prayers, and realize the floating feeling of lifted weight I hadn’t realized I was carrying in the “back of my mind,” (pun intended) I found it interesting that I want to shout about THIS one. Yet, I didn’t write blogs about the skin biopsies that came back normal, annual exams that didn’t cause concern or the colds I didn’t get. I am so extra-ecstatic this time, because the “last time” had been a bad diagnosis. “Last time” had been a fast-growing, life-threatening tumor that would likely cause seizures at any moment.  “Last time” the tumor was resting on the main vein, in the area of the nerves for my mouth and eating through a bone used for hearing! “Last time” had led to urgent surgery within two weeks followed by months out of my mom-of-the-home position. Argh! “Last time’s”  stormy season had taken everything I had to dance in the rain. And because of that rain, I GREATLY appreciate the sun I have been given in this great news.

In other words, I guess the rainy days in life remind us of the value in the sun.

  • Ask anyone who has had cancer in the past how much they celebrate the clear scans of remission.
    • Ask anyone who has almost lost a loved one how much more they are drawn to that same person now that the storm is done.
      • Ask anyone who has ever lived without a meal how much they appreciate every morsel today.

Ask anyone who fully depended on daily bread, how grateful they are when the sun comes up!

The rain makes us notice the sun…and appreciate it even more.  I hope it makes us tell God thank you even more as well!

If you are in the storm right now,

…like the person in front of me at the doctor, who was scheduling his next chemotherapy, while his wife and dad watched on…

…like the person behind me in the check-out line of the doctor, who was already paralyzed with an obvious head-surgery scar and sat patiently waiting in her wheelchair…

I am praying for you.

I pray you feel the God who calms the winds and waves right there with you, as He carries you to bright skies ahead.

Thanks for dancing in the sun with me.

Terri

 

Morning by morning, new mercies I see.

Lamentations 3:22-23 King James Version (KJV): 22 It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

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It’s Not Mine

I set the case down next to the sink. No, it might get wet. I thought. I picked it up and put the strap on my shoulder, so the prized possession was resting on my back, safe from water. A woman walked by behind me in the public bathroom and knocked my purse, which knocked the case, pulling the strap from my shoulder as gravity pulled the valuable toward the ground. With Elasto-girl’s flexibility and Jack-Jack’s incredible speed, my hand moved swiftly to grab the strap to avoid the camera hitting, while my purse finished the descent to the dirty floor. Fortunately, it was only my purse and not the camera!

I need to shorten this camera strap, I thought, so it doesn’t fall off again. But wait, it is not mine, so I don’t want to adjust anything in case the owner likes it at that exact length.

I continued babying the camera for the three hours it was in my possession.camera baby

My 12-year-old daughter was in a talent competition, Actors, Models and Talent for Christ, and wanted an actual camera as a prop in one of her acting scenes. We borrowed one from a grandparent of another performer.

I was so nervous to hold the camera. I didn’t want anything to happen to it before it could be used for its purpose in the acting competition. Besides, I pretty much hate borrowing anything…almost ever…because I am afraid I will mess something up.  It is as though my pride can’t handle being the one to hurt something that is not mine.

I wish I treated my life as if it were Someone else’s!

To Whom Does This Belong?

How do I keep forgetting Whose life this is?

My pastor, Stephen Davey of Wisdom for the Heart,  did an illustration not long ago. He brought a man to the front of the church and asked him to give him his wallet. The man did. The pastor then took $20 out of the wallet and handed the man his wallet back – $20 short. The man said, “Thank you.” As we all would expect when someone gives you something back – even though:

  1. It belonged to the man to begin with
  2. The pastor was returning it with less value than it originally had.

His example was an illustration of tithing – how God gives us “a wallet of money” and we give a portion back (sometimes only 10%!), and then act like God should say “thank you,” when really it was 100% His to begin with!

Wallet of Twenty-Four hours

I liked the illustration, and for me, I applied it to my “wallet of time.” I have 24 hours in a walletOfTimeday that God has given me. I am embarrassed to say that sometimes I act like He should say “thank you” if I give “some” of it back, while I try to keep the rest of the time “for me”.

The fact is that all of the hours were His and still are. It is up to me to represent them that way.

It’s funny to me how much I like to compartmentalize life: This hour is for Bible time with God; this hour is for exercise; this hour is for motherhood; this hour is for my husband.  But God sees all the hours! All of the words, all of the thoughts, all of the actions,  all of my all is meant to be used by Him!

I guess I need to treat this life like the camera next to the sink – as a precious possession of Someone else’s- and protect every inch of it, so it is ready to be used when the time of its purpose arrives.

If I recalled Whose life this is, would I guard my brain’s intake more wisely? (Phil 4:8)  Would I use words purposefully (1Thess 5:11)? Would I rest more, eat better, and in general beat my body into submission to what I should be doing? (1Cor 9:27)

What if I took care of all of my possessions – as if they are gifts for His use and not mine? (because they are.) (1Chron 29:14)  What if I used my life as the gift He loaned….and used it for His purposes alone?

In reality, there is no-such thing as a compartmentalized Christian.

“Either you live your life for God’s glory, or you are living for yourself. There is no ground in-between.” – Chris Brady

May God keep us focused on living for His glory…with every hour He graciously puts in our “wallet”,

Terri

(note: Illustrations by my daughter, Christine Brady, age 12)

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Recommended Reading

Why is There a Dead Bird on the Air Hockey Table?

Dear Lindsey,

I got off to a start this morning. My oldest drove himself to school. The next three kids and I loaded into the car before Chris was even downstairs for breakfast. Off to the appointments we headed when I got a text from Chris that changed my day:

“Why is there a dead bird on the air hockey table?”photo_2

Stopped at a red light, I read the text aloud to the kids in the car, sure that my backseat held the culprits.

“[silence]”

Suddenly, the 13-yr-old in the front seat was stifling giggles that refused their restraint and started sneaking through his pursed lips in bursts.

Shocked, and trying to be strict, I subdued the humor of the text – but my own choked laughter (holding up my cup to hide my smile) led to the coffee-down-the-wrong-pipe-choke, so I prayed the light would stay red for a while as I tried to get oxygen.

That’s when the back seat spoke with remorse:

“We felt bad it died yesterday in the back yard, and we were going to bury it…”

“…But the dog was going to eat it…”

“… we couldn’t find the shovel…”

“…then Nate asked if I would throw football…”

“…and I didn’t want to have a funeral without people…”

“…and then we left for evening church in a hurry…”

At eight and ten-years-old, their voices are undistinguishable, so I couldn’t tell which Dead Birdone was talking when (and I was seriously just trying to breathe again), but I got the gist of their story. I only wish that Chris had not been the first to find the carcass: a messy house drives him crazy! Although I can’t think of too many people that are happy when they find a dead bird on the air hockey table.

Irresponsible!

They are not getting this “pick up after yourself” thing that I have been teaching since before they were born!

Oh my…I cannot put into words to even speak to these two right now. They know what they did was wrong!

That’s when my thoughts of frustration were interrupted by a protective (or perspective) mechanism:

  • Thank You, God, that we found the dead bird on the air hockey table today, and not next week when guests are here.
  • Thank You, God, that my kids have good hearts that had compassion for Your creation. (I am glad they were not ruined by my roadkilling a few years ago.)
  • Thank You for a 13-yr-old who was mature enough to see it wasn’t a life-threatening, eternal consequences moment (but that he stifled his laughter until the lesson was taught).
  • Thank You that they put the thing in the bug cage, so at least if it had bugs on it, they were contained in the cage…and I hope that means they didn’t actually touch the dead bird.
  • Thank You for creating the birds that we could fall in love with, even when we don’t know them.
  • Thank You that I didn’t choke to death. (And thank You that the choking reminded me to say thank You that I don’t have a brain tumor…as it always reminds me now.)
  • Thank You that my children will never bring a dead bird in the house again. (I believe.)
  • Thank You that I have children.
  • Thank You for the dead bird on the air hockey table that reminded me of so much for which I can be thankful.

I think it’s ironic… I was trying not to get too bent out of shape, so I made a list in my mind of what to be thankful for (my normal redirection mechanism), and I ended up being thankful for the exact thing I was trying to reframe: the dead bird on the air hockey table.

When Bad Things Happen

I think the point here is that this mechanism is applicable to bigger issues than dead birds on the air hockey table. When I go through bad times (This began during my years of massive headaches while I had young toddlers!), I have a protective mechanism of listing things (at least three each time!) for which I am thankful. It is ironic to me the number of times when I am listing thankfulness to distract me from a problem – and give me perspective – that the list goes all the way back to thanking God for the exact problem with which I started: the dead bird on the air hockey table.

I suppose one of these days, I will be able to skip the “Why?…” part and get to the “Thank You, God for even this,” faster.

A friend, Jane Zempel, spoke at my church recently about “contentment.” She told a story of figuring out what one thing is so bad in life that you would want God to change. What one thing would you get rid of? If you were granted only one thing about yourself you could change, what would it be?

“Now thank God for that one thing,” she said.  “It’s amazing how when I did this, I had to force the words ‘thank You,’ but once they were said, enough times, I realized I could believe it.”

She went on to say that when we believe that God is sovereign over all, we can say thank You for even the things we don’t want, because we recognize God has a plan in even them.

When her son came home from school in tears (again) at age twelve, being teased as a “retard” for having Down Syndrome, she taught him this lesson of saying, “thank You,” even for Down Syndrome, because God had a purpose in his life. She saw that purpose thirty years later when her son told a doctor what a “blessing” Down Syndrome was to him…and it changed the doctor!

When things are rough….

When we can’t change it all…

or when we can’t change even one thing…

Let us give thanks.

Make the list now. To what do we owe God “Thank You”?

What if you woke up today with only the things for which you said thank You yesterday?” – Peter Bonner

I am thankful for you!

In love,

Terri Brady

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1Thes 5:18

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  1Tim 6:6

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Phil 1:3

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The Book is Here!

Introducing: Letters to Lindsey in book form!

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Thanks to my husband’s initiative and his incredible, creative team; thanks to you who requested it; and thanks to the late Russ Mack who persistently encouraged it: Letters to Lindsey (the book) is available! With a foreword by Laurie Woodward and introduction by my best-selling husband Chris, let the stories begin! The chronicled journeys through infertility and the brain tumor survival,  tea parties and fishing trips, along with enflamed underwear (size 4T) on a chandelier are all decorated with my kids’ cute quotes in Post-It note form.  It’s a short read, a long read or anything in-between. So curl up with a blanket in front of the fire, make some fresh popcorn and hot chocolate, (or just go to the beach!) and relish some quiet reading time as you laugh with me, cry with me, and grow with me!

Enjoy!

-Terri Brady

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Readers (you!) in line for book-signing in Milwaukee, WI.