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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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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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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The Making of a Name

Para español, haga clic aquí

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!

The Audiobook is Now Available

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

 

You Know You’re a Soccer Mom When:

Para español, haga clic aquí (coming soon)

Just for fun…

You know you’re a “soccer Mom” when:

  • … someone asks how old your kid is and you answer a number with a “u” in front of it.
  • … you go to a Broadway play and check the program for “half-time.”
  • … your “back-to-soccer” pictures trump the “back-to-school” pictures.
  • … your “new car smell” only lasts until the first practice.
  • … you have witnessed true exorcism of devilish entrails when an opposing parent is self-diagnosed as “smarter than the referee’s call.”
  • … your child has a perfected British accent from watching games before he was 5.
  • … church runs over the normal time, and you wonder how much “stoppage time” was added.
  • … “upper 90” has nothing to do with being old.
  • … you give your kid yellow and red cards for punishment in the house. (Yellow might mean time out, but red means Dad is getting involved.)
  • … you call the baseball umpire a “ref.” (I love to watch my baseball-playing nephews!)
  • … football players seem overdressed. (Though I still love to watch football!)
  • … you can’t remember a Mother’s Day that you didn’t celebrate from the sidelines.
  • … you go to Florida to run into your Michigan friends, now that you live in North Carolina. (Because the soccer worlds always collide.)
  • … your kid has more daily multi-cultural experiences than the UN.
  • … the words “Classic,” “Select,” “Challenge,” and “Recreation” rank like school grades.
  • … you spend more on soccer uniforms and equipment than college.
  • … “Nutmeg” is not a spice. (Thanks, Jodi, for that suggestion on Facebook!)

 

… And some days you wish there were some overtime sessions in motherhood, so it would last a little longer – with stoppage time.

Blessed to be a Soccer Mom,

Terri

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Waiting for the Other Shoe

Dear Lindsey

He got in the car and said, “Has anybody seen my other shoe?”  We were on our way to church for our bi-weekly geography class with other homeschoolers.

“You got in the car wearing only one shoe?!” I said, changing my mood from fun Miss Frizzle to Miss Frazzled as we rushed down the road, trying to gain the minutes we had lost by leaving late.

“NO. I was carrying TWO shoes when I go into the car, but now ONE is gone! Christine!” he blamed his sister for not looking hard enough.

Seeing her reading in the front seat, I got her attention: “Christine, if you lost your own shoe, you would appreciate others helping to look. Please look.”

She looked under and around her seat; no black tennis shoe with neon orange laces was found, so she returned to reading.

We got to church. Still no shoe.

We got out of the car and my son slithered over the tops and under the seats, contorting his body to every nook and cranny of the vehicle, but still no shoe.

“Well you will just have to wear your socks to class today. It’s OK – homeschoolers are used to it,” I joked.

As we walked from the parking lot, many of their friends were in the church yard kicking a soccer ball.  Next to the door, there were two Crocs (shoes) waiting for their owner to claim them before re-entering the building.

“Look! One of those soccer kids took off his shoes! You can wear them and see how long it takes him to notice!” I jested – hoping to improve my son’s mood before we got into the building.

That’s when he surprised me the most….

THERE’S MY CROCSI WAS WONDERING WHERE I HAD LEFT THEM!” He ran crocs-at-church and put on the shoes that were sitting outside of the church’s backdoor…. presumably for the past two weeks since our last geography class when we had used that entrance.

I can’t say I have ever gone to a church with shoes on and gone home without them.  I started to ask questions as to how exactly that happened and decided it was best just to laugh, because I was going to anyway!

I asked J.R. if I could share this story on my blog. (I don’t like to publish things that my kids would not want to be shared.) He said, “I guess, if you think it would help someone.” (Ha! So sweet!)

I asked him how he thought it could help someone… or if it was just a story that would make us laugh – which is what the three of us were doing when we saw the Crocs.

He said, “Well you could tell people that sometimes when you think you lost something, God is just saving it for the right time.”

Perfect.

  • When you lose that house you wanted because of someone else’s offer: wait – God might have the perfect one waiting in the perfect timing.
  • When you lose the opportunity to be on that team because you are not big enough:  wait – God might have the perfect team on hold for the perfect time.
  • When you lose that job you thought you would have forever:  just wait – God might have the perfect job (or one you lost before) to offer at the time when you need it most.

Or when you lose your shoe – just know that God might have another complete pair waiting for you to find at just the right place and just the right time.

Feel free to start a comment below with “when you lose” if you have a time when God gave you your other “shoe” at just the perfect time.

Blessings,

Terri (and J.R.)

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

P.S. In case you were wondering: When we arrived home after class, his other shoe was found lying in the foyer where he must have dropped it en route to the car.

found-shoe

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My Mom

Dear Lindsey,

My mother has passed from this life to her new home in heaven.  Though I will miss her, I am grateful she is out of her failing body, out of pain, and in a peace I cannot imagine – such a contrast to the sickness in this world!

As a tribute to Mom, I thought I would tell some of my “Mom” stories.  I originally wrote them in the letter, “Shout Out to Moms,” written for the week of Mother’s Day, 2012.  In that letter, I added a daily “mom” to whom I was “shouting out.” Some were friends, some strangers, and some relatives. I saved my mom for last.

However, just this past spring, Mom called me and said, “I just read that letter you wrote about a shout out to moms! That was so sweet of you to write!” She thought I had just written it! She had never seen my 2012 shout out! That made me laugh, since I had of course sent her the specific link back then, but at 76-years-old, she admittedly was not the most tech-savvy.  In God’s perfect timing, she read the shout out as one of her last readings.

In my parting words to her in hospice this week, I said, “Mom, I love being a mother – and I am sure much of it is because of the mother you were. Thank you.”  She is worthy of a shout out!  Here is the tribute, quoted from “Shout Out to Moms!” published in May, 2012:

Lastly, and of course most importantly to me, I would love to shout about my own mom, Sue Estes. An amazing cook, she defined volunteer work by cooking for 80 children every Wednesday night at the church where I grew up in Carlisle, PA. She knows food is a love language, and she is fluent in it! Famous for her pies, she would make an entire pie for every person who attended our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Hospitality was her natural gift. I don’t mean the pinky-in-the-air matching place-settings, (which she had!) but I mean the door was open to whoever walked in, and they would feel welcome to live there, anytime. Her freezer and cupboard were full “just in case” someone stopped in “unexpectedly.” She expected it.

Mom and Me

Jesus said, “What you have done for the least of these, my brethren, you have done for me.” My mother served “Jesus” on more than one occasion. Once there was a bad car accident on the highway near our neighborhood. We children heard the collision and ran to the fence to see. My mother followed through with more than rubber-necking. I don’t know if she jumped the fence, or jumped in the car and followed the ambulance, but I do know that the family that was far from home on vacation was hospitalized and released at different times from each other. My mother offered our home to the father and children while they waited for the other children and mother to be released from the hospital. In my memory it was months, but knowing how children’s brains work, I guess it was probably a week that this family “moved in” with us, with bandaged wounds showing, as they awaited the mother’s medical clearance.Mom had a dream to be a nurse, but when she was a teen, she came upon a bad car accident and fainted. Because of the experience, she “chickened out” from nursing school. The dream never faded, even after her courage had. Years later, when my oldest brother graduated from high school (and her youngest of four was in 4th grade), my mom tenaciously picked herself up by the bootstraps and went to college, 45 minutes from home, full time. She graduated from college as an R.N. the same week as her oldest child.

I don’t know if it is possible to identify, much less quantify someone’s greatest trait, but Mom surpasses the world’s standards when it comes to being flexible and conforming to circumstances that change. She has been babysitting for me and ended up voluntarily taking on other people’s kids when their sitter didn’t show up. Once on family vacation, when our car ran off the road on the way back from a remote fishing lake in Canada, embedding in sand and needing a tow truck, she immediately got all of the fish out and started lining them up on the ground to make a photo shoot out of the time we had to kill. What would have been a stressful, bad memory turned into fun. (Although, we did laugh AT her sometimes, I think she knew deep down we enjoyed it.)

In 2008, when I had to make the call to let my parents know I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I really think Mom was in the car before I hung up – ready to make the 1600miles drive to be by my side…for a doctor’s appointment. Wild horses had to hold her back until a few weeks after surgery, when I really needed someone flexible enough to let me try some steps back into life, but take over when I got exhausted.

“Shouting out!” about her kids has never been held back by my mom. She would tell a complete stranger in Walmart or Wendys (the two places I specifically remember witnessing!) all about her children and grandchildren’s accomplishments. She is president of fan clubs for 4 adult-children and 12 grandchildren [and a 2014 great-grandchild] ! I love you, Mom!

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J.R. (at 3-yrs-old) summed it up best when he asked, “Who is God’s mommy?”  I told him God did not have a mommy, and he exasperatedly replied, “Oh, He must be so sad!”

God truly blessed us when He gave us mothers.

In love and thankfulness for Mom,

Terri Brady

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Version 2

Sue Estes 1939 – 2015

Obituary: Estes, Sue

ESTES, Sue — Age 76, of Aurora, CO, entered heaven on August 14, 2015. Sue, also known as “Sudie,” “Mom,” “Grammy,” “Mimi,” and “GG,” will be missed. Her piano-playing reached the hearts of the listeners. Her tenacity led her to finish a college degree (as a Registered Nurse) at age forty-five. She added her own touch to geriatric nursing, in the form of piano playing and homemade pies for the residents of the nursing home where she worked. She will likely be most remembered for the “open door” policy of her home, which always included desserts! Much of Sue’s active adult life was spent in the throes of motherhood and serving at church in Carlisle, PA, before retiring with her husband, moving to Colorado.

Her life will be celebrated with a service, followed by finger food and “Dessert with Sue,” featuring Sue’s recipes on Saturday, October 10th, 2015 at 11am, at 2nd Presbyterian Church, 528 Garland Dr., Carlisle, PA. Black tie attire will not be allowed.

Sue is survived by Ron, her husband of 55 years, and children: Larry D. Estes (& Julie), Timothy R. Estes (& Lori), Terri M. Brady (& Chris) as well as Sue’s brother, Charles (and Mary Jo) and brother-in-law, Edward E. Seitz (of the late June R. (Hodge) Seitz). She is preceded in death by her beloved son, Michael E. Estes (deceased Jan. 2014). She was loved by many, including twelve grandchildren, one great-grandchild and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of the following:

  • Porter Hospice Foundation, (where Sue and family received excellent care following her stroke) 1391 Speer Blvd., Suite 600, Denver, CO 80204 or online at Porter Hospice Donation
  • 2nd Presbyterian Church Kitchen Renovation. Checks to: “2nd Presbyterian Church” 528 Garland Dr, Carlisle, PA 17013. Write “In memory of Sue Estes” on the memo line, or give online at 2nd Presbyterian Church Donations.

Rowena Sue (Hodge) Estes was the youngest of five, born February 15, 1939, the daughter of the late Joseph C. Hodge and Annie P. Hodge. She was a 1957 graduate of Talladega High School, in Talladega, AL and attended University of Montevallo. She married Ronald L. Estes on April 3, 1960 and was a 1984 graduate of Harrisburg Area Community College. Together, they resided in Festus, MO; Penn Hills, PA; Carlisle, PA; Ft. Collins, CO and Aurora, CO until the present.

I Miss When They…

Dear Lindsey,

“Class of 2015.”

That seemed like “Jetsons” time of the future when I first heard that my child would be in the “Class of 2015”. But like the “Party of 1999,” it came and went. My son left for college Monday and we are down to five seats at the dinner table. Sniff. Sniff.

For those of you who had babies in 2015, your child will be somewhere around the class of 2033. I almost named this letter, “To the mothers of the class of 2033.”  Doesn’t that sound SO much in the future?!! It is. But I want to tell you, like so many mothers before me told me, it will be here sooner than you think!

I could pontificate for hours on that alone, but I thought instead I would just throw out some random thoughts about having young kids. I had it listed as “Ten Notes to Young Moms,” but the number kept changing, so I am just leaving it as is: unsolicited advice:

(If you are an “old mother” like me, feel free to attach comments below with your “unsolicited advice to young mothers”!)

  • Be silly. You will miss the silly days! Push the grocery cart and make “Vrooming” sounds while your kids “drive” and almost crash into the lettuce! Make hungry monster sounds while the sock monster gobbles up those little feet, getting them dressed for the day. Have the goose in your pocket (your hand in the shape of a goose’s beak) “goose” them up the stairs when it’s time for PJ’s. Let your little princess do your hair, or your prince carry your suitcase. You may look silly to everybody except the ones who matter. You will be amazed how a little “vrooming” takes away your own stress in life. I miss that!
  • Be happy. Kids’ peace comes from your peace. Our mouths can feed our minds. Make your mouth speak happy thoughts to your mind and to your kids’ minds. It seems like happiness would be easy when surrounded by youth, but alas, the enemy seems to thrive by stealing smiles from moms. Happiness is a choice – Make it!

Video: Excitement of bringing home baby #3 (Christine) and the “toddler buzz” about it!

  • Slow down. Life gets so busy. I know you want them to excel in all areas. I know you want them to be geniuses. I know you want them to play instruments, do sports, become leaders. Don’t sacrifice their childhood on the altar of your goalsetting. There will be time. I promise. There will be time when they are so busy, you will be the one wishing to slow down. Enjoy their youth and allow them to get serious about things when they are the ones driving it. I miss lying in the front yard looking at clouds and pretending they are animals.
  • Blow bubbles. I used to be afraid that some moment would slip by and I would miss my chance to teach something important. I didn’t want to miss a teachable moment. I think my pendulum swung too far. Some moments are meant for just soaking in. Stop and blow bubbles. I miss that.
  • Don’t be so embarrassed; other people love your imperfect kids! When I drove to my friend’s house, whom I hadn’t seen in a year, her toddlers, age 3 and 4 greeted me in the driveway. The older stopped abruptly when I opened my car door, and said in a disgusted tone, “You don’t look like Mr. Brady!”

Oh my! My heart laughed! How I missed having toddlers! I missed the times when they got the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” reversed! I missed their fresh look on old things! Your toddlers (when behaving) do not need an apology! You may be surprised what a blessing they are to those who no longer have toddlers! Let them bless!

  • If you want to relate to your teenagers, relate to your toddlers. Relationships aren’t made overnight, though one night can break them. Out-of-control teens can grow from seeds of out-of-control toddlers. Enemy teens grow from seeds of ignored toddlers. Spend time with them doing what they love.

photo: Casey’s yearbook page this past year:

  • Be eternally focused. It is easy to get mixed up in the exhaustion of daily diapers, meals and activities and forget what really matters. Pray aloud when an ambulance goes by with lights on. Do your kids know you trust God to get through your day? Do they know you are a sinner in need of a Savior? (My kids are still shocked at that one! haha!) Do you show them the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc Gal 5:22) because you love the Lord, or because a purple dinosaur said that they were neat for a family? Ask them often what they are thankful for – and live in a way that shows them how thankful you are.
  • Make “me” time a priority. What you are full of is what comes out if you are squeezed! Like putting your oxygen mask on before attempting to assist your children, be sure you have your “me” time. Without working out, or reading my Bible, I am full of stuff that I wouldn’t want to “squeeze” on anybody! So I have had to make it a priority in my day!
  • Be careful with “me” time. I tread on this lightly, but “me” time is addicting. Some think pedicures are a right; a toddler-less hair appointment is a given; a girls’-night-out is part of some unwritten contract. They are not.

Motherhood is a selfless act of living, and often it means many “me times” are given up for a season, because priorities shift. But don’t grow weary (Gal 6:9-10), the season will pass.

I remember when my second child was two-years-old and we had a gym membership. At home, my husband and I had decided we would be a reading family, and rarely allowed our kids to watch movies or television.  Now with my “me” time, I was enjoying trying to get back into pre-baby shape, spending time daily at the gym, since childcare was “free”. Oh the joy of a one-hour class and the subsequent kid-free shower and blow-dry!! However, the “free childcare” was zombie transformation.  My kids sat like zombies in front of the gym’s television, showing whatever brainless cartoon happened to be on for the hour of my class, while the worker sat behind them, busy on her phone. I quickly realized it wasn’t worth the price of giving up these precious morning hours with my kids. I ended up changing my mid-morning “me” time to make it (super) early morning “me” time at the gym (so kids would be in bed – not brainless in front of the TV), but oh my what a blessing! By the time the kids were ready for their day, I was ready for my kids! And they weren’t cartoon zombies!

  • Love your spouse. Maybe this should have been first on the list, since it comes as the first priority above the kids. Kids feel security when they see security between Mom and Dad. I have heard moms say, “I would jump in front of a speeding bus to save my kids! That’s how much I love them.” I am glad you are willing to let yourself die to save them by jumping in front of a moving vehicle, but you are more likely to be called to “let yourself die” by dying to self in interaction with your husband…to save your kids. Stop being your husband’s opponent. Stop thinking bad thoughts about him. Stop dreaming of a perfect man who doesn’t live in your house. You want to save your kids? Then be sure you are doing your best to save your marriage.* Talk positively about their dad behind his back! Tell them about your real-live superhero! Sit next to him at the table or at church. Don’t let the kids get between you in seating or in life. Have date nights and make it a big deal to the kids that you are going out with their dad! But it shouldn’t take a date night to create a happily-ever-after in the bedroom. Make a great marriage. Their future marriages depend on yours.
  • Tell/Show your kids you love them.  Kids hear “I love you” when you tell others that you love your kids. Talk positively about your kids to others in front of them and behind their backs! I am not saying you should brag, but stop the complaining! If someone compliments them, say, “thank you.” Or “She has been working at that,” or something that encourages your child to continue the good behavior. Resist the urge to block the compliment with negative that will shout louder than the positive, like, “She has good manners for you, but I wish she would treat her brother that way!”  You may think you are being humble, but your kids are taking the chinks in their armor because of your words.
  • Teach them to love and respect parents and siblings. You are raising future spouses. I recently had to stop my ten-year-old, riding on his older brother’s shoulders, from trying to rip his sister’s head off while they were playing “chicken fights” in the pool. “But Mom!” my daughter contested from her perch on her other older brother’s shoulders, “Why did you stop him?! I like it!”

Easy answer: “Because I am raising a future husband, and that is not how he should treat his future wife.”

  • Put your phone down. (and be sure they do too.) I know it is a fight. I fight
    Casey Brady - graduation 2015 (with the cutest photobomb by one of our family friends!)

    Casey Brady – graduation 2015 (with the cutest photobomb by one of our family friends!)

    myself on it. But you will never regret having screens off!

  • Date them. Without distraction. My kids have enjoyed the Mom dates. OK, maybe it was just the donuts they enjoyed, but I like to think they enjoyed the conversation and fun one-on-one games at the donut shop. Intimacy of one-on-one conversation is important to any relationship, but especially when children are in a house full of kids who are usually splitting the mom time! I have heard that kids spell love, “T-I-M-E.” It is amazing how a little one-on-one always improves a toddler’s behavior.
  • Enjoy the season (and know the next season will be great too!) In the words of Dr. Robert Smith Jr, “Don’t waste Chapter 8 because you are too focused on chapter 9.” God planned every season of motherhood with a purpose. Even potty-training! Even colicky babies! My 4th baby was such a cryer; I often worried I would wish his babyhood away, because I was so anxious for the crying to stop. I almost looked so much at “Chapter 9” that I missed out on “Chapter 8” with him – and my other kids.
  • Remember, “This too shall pass.” I remember times when I thought I would never make it through the day, much less through their toddlerhood, or childhood. It seemed like I would never be able to stop the car, and get out without waiting for someone to find the shoe that they had miraculously lost in the 3 minute drive to the store. I thought I would never make it through a meal without cleaning up a spill (or four!), or finish a phone call without having to cut it short because of some escalating calamity. But it is passing all too quickly. Now I beg my kids to go to the store with me. I definitely never imagined THAT when they were young! haha!…

 

I wonder if I could get them all to ride in the cart and say, “vroom!” now??!

Casey at college this past Monday:

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In 2033, you will look back and think, “Wow. It went so fast!” just like all the rest of the “old” mothers. If you look back and say, “I miss when they…,” more than “I wish I had…,”  I think you did it right.

In love,

Terri Brady

  • *  When I talk about “saving your kids by saving your marriage,” my heart breaks for those who are in the midst of the struggle. I feel like it is torturous on so many – especially those who are divorced due to unrepentant infidelity or abuse – my heart and prayers go out to you. May God guide you through and make your kids strong in Him! But for those who are truly just not “dying to self,” and instead battling the things I mention, my statement remains. I pray you have guidance and courage to die to self to save your marriage. God is bigger than the struggle!

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Chin Ups (Via Humorous Teens)

Dear Lindsey,

As heavy as life can get, I love it when a lighter side keeps my chin up.

While Christine and I were away visiting Mom in a Colorado hospital following her stroke, and Chris was speaking at Life Leadership’s Summer Convention in Wisconsin, the three boys were left at home to their own devices. (“devices” ha! I guess I could intend that pun, since their humor used their phones 🙂 )

Since the older two have a schedule of soccer workouts and work, I decided to have a nanny stay the nights, but she kept her job working days elsewhere.  She was sweet enough to text the boys (age 18 and 15) during the day to be sure everything was ok. (She probably was making sure they were taking care of JR (age 10)  too!)

Here is how the exchange went. {For those of you who are not familiar with this phone screen, the “GROUP” is Casey (age 18), Nate (age 15), and Lydia (the nanny), so they can all see each other’s replies, even though none are in the same location. This is Casey’s phone screen, so his words are the ones in BLUE.}

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I am grateful they have a sense of humor, and especially grateful Lydia does too!

In fun,

Terri

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