In honor of Naomi’s birthday…I’m taking it off!!

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Now before you start gagging and panicking, keep reading! 🙂

As most of you know by now, my dear sister, Naomi passed away due to a brain aneurysm. Shortly after her home going, I purchased some red bracelets from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation to raise awareness of this horrible disorder. Those of you who frequently see Mark and I, may have noticed that we are wearing these bracelets on our left wrists. The only time I’ve taken mine off in the past 3 1/2 years was on Sarah’s wedding day. It almost became an obsession with me: I got all angst one time when I thought I had lost it but it was just pushed up underneath my sleeve. Did wearing this bracelet mean that I was being loyal to my sister’s memory? Your mind really messes with you when you are grieving.

Recently, every time I look at this bracelet, I’m reminded of a very painful time in our family’s life. I’ve been thinking “Is this really what Naomi would want from me? Would she really want me to focus on this? This event in her life?” This bracelet was becoming more of a weight than an item of memory of my sister.

A few days ago, I told Mark “I think I’m ready to take off my bracelet! I’m ready to let it go.” My sister was so much more than this disease!

My sister was intelligent! From my earliest memories, she was smart and loved learning. A member of the National Honor Society in High School and a whiz in her courses in college. A lover of words, their meanings and their proper use.

Naomi was funny! Oh my goodness, did she ever make us laugh! Calling me to tell me that she just learned that Squanto had a twin brother who was near-sighted…his name was “Squinto”! I think the funniest thing was how she could laugh at herself. She was her own biggest fan.

Naomi was compassionate. Those that were underprivileged were especially close to her heart. The Sheltering Wing Ministry located at the old Peru School was started because of her concern for those who needed help with their babies and young children.

She enjoyed nature. I remember, as kids, spending hours and hours playing in the woods behind our home on Lovejoy Hill with our neighbor and best friend, Angie Moro. As an adult, Naomi, Rodney and the kids enjoyed hiking many of the surrounding mountains around Dixfield with their biggest accomplishment hiking Mt. Katahdin.

Her drug of choice? Her high octane coffee! No decaf for her. 🙂 She liked her coffee strong and full of caffeine. She never understood how I could function without a cuppa joe.

And her greatest pride and joy? The Five Little Farrars. 🙂 They were her life and all she did was because she loved them to the moon and back.

All this to say that I’m choosing to focus on the 41 years that God allowed us to have such a special, funny, loving and compassionate woman in our lives and not focus on the difficult, heartbreaking, horrible last few days of her time here on Earth. I think that’s what Naomi would want.

So, it’s that time to take it off. On January 13th, I’m taking this old bracelet off and saying goodbye to a reminder that I don’t need anymore. I don’t need a physical thing to remind me of one of the best gifts I ever received. My sister, partner in crime, best friend and confidant, Naomi. 🙂

Let’s play a game of “Word Association”!

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Have you ever played the game “Word Association”? It’s a game where someone says a word and you reply with the first thing that pops into your head. Okay, playing with me may be a very scary thing to do. Most of my answers have something to do with squirrels. 🙂

Recently, Mark, Kaitlyn, my mom and I drove part of the Benedict Arnold Trail in Maine. And this got me thinking…another very scary thing. So, let’s play Word Association! I’m going to list some names and you think about the first word that comes to mind. You may not want to shout it out as those close to you will think that you’ve finally lost it. Ready? Okay, here we go:

Judas…..
Thomas (the disciple)……
Mother Theresa……
President Lincoln……
Benedict Arnold…….
Lizzie Borden…….

While we were driving and talking about Benedict Arnold, I mentioned that it’s pretty sad that when we hear this gentleman’s name, the first thing most of us think about is that he was a traitor. We forget that Mr. Arnold may have done some pretty cool things before he decided that the US wasn’t appreciating him enough.

Let’s take Judas…traitor; Thomas….doubter; Mother Theresa…kind; Lizzie Borden…axe!!

As we were driving along, the Holy Spirit does what He does best with me. He tapped me on the shoulder and asked me “What are people going to associate your name with?” Hmmmm. I would hope that after I’ve left this earth that people would have good things to say about me. I’m hoping that “faithful”, or “compassionate”, or “kind” will be some of the words that people think of. I know some will say “sensitive”, others will say “overly sensitive”! 🙂 “Indecisive”, “distracted”, “scattered” will probably be other words that will come to people’s minds. But most importantly, what will God say about me when I enter into His presence? Will I hear the words that every believer longs to hear when they stand before our Heavenly Father: “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.” Oh, I hope and pray that I’ve served Him well.

Sometimes I put way more stock in what people think and say of me. This has been my dilemma for a long time now. I recently heard what some one thought of me and it bothered me and then my husband asked me “Why does it matter?” Yeah! Why does it matter?! I feel as though these past couple of years, God has been revealing some of my “issues” and working with me to get over my insecurities. He’s such a gracious and gentle God.

I just told my daughter that sometimes I don’t know how to end my little ramblings here and she said that I should just put that I have to log off so I can go wash my kitchen floor! So, I’m logging off and when someone says the name “Terry” to you all, you can say “Clean kitchen floors”! Lol!

No longer a slave!

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 thW31SRATF

On our way home from Milwaukee, Mark and I decided to swing down to Gettysburg to walk the fields where a huge part of our US history took place.  I wouldn’t call myself a “History Buff” but I do get a certain feeling when I am standing in a spot where our country had some of her major events take place.  Lexington and Concord, MA always gives me a sense of awe and pride.  Kaitlyn and Mark probably retained more of the facts during our tour of Gettysburg than I did; I usually stand in these places and close my eyes and picture the precious sons, husbands and fathers who fought with such gusto for the freedoms and privileges that I enjoy these many years later.  So much bloodshed for those who were held in bondage and slavery. One part of the auditory tour mentioned that the survivors could hear the wounded and dying calling out for family members.  As a mother, that just broke my heart.

I listened in on some of the visitors’ questions that were asked of the rangers re: the strategy of the battles. I was a little jealous of their interest in this part of the battles as I don’t understand most of what they are talking about.  For me, my biggest strategy is when should I wash the kitchen floor so I can get out of preparing supper?  And trust me, that takes many hours of careful planning, sketching out the floor plan, what type of mop or rag should I use, the conditions of the day: is it humid or dry, etc.  Washing the kitchen floor is no “fly by night” operation!

Standing at the Gettysburg National Cemetery and seeing the many, many graves of those brave soldiers that gave their lives for our country, it was one of the most solemn and touching moments of our visit.  And there were so many graves that simply had “unknown” on them.  And then….the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder….and we had a little chat.

My Heavenly Father had a strategy from the moment sin entered the Garden of Eden.  Blood was shed to cover Adam and Eve in their sinful state.  Further on in the Old Testament, my Father’s strategy included the shedding of blood of lambs, bulls, doves for the covering of sin.  And then, praise God, the battle was nearing the end, the final shedding of blood took place on a hill.  And my Savior called out to his Father in his anguish!  And He gave His life to free me from my bondage and my status as a slave. I am not an “unknown” to my Father, He knows my name! In the Psalms, we are told that He knows our rising and our laying down, He knows our thoughts before they are even spoken. How fitting that I read in Galatians 4:6-7 that same evening the following: “Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out “Abba, Father”.  So you are no longer a slave but God’s child and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir.”  Praise God!  Words escape me.  How can I ever thank Him enough for delivering me out of my status as a slave?  Thankfully I’ll have all of eternity to praise His Holy Name!  What can I do in the meantime?  Well Gal. 5: 1 tells me: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Sounds easy, right?  But how often do I get myself yoked up with something that drags me down and feels burdensome?

I’m so grateful for the time spent on the road and visiting Gettysburg.  Who knew that an old battlefield could turn into a sanctuary where God and I met?

 

A Letter to my little sister! :-)

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 Dear Naomi,

I know you probably don’t receive mail in Heaven but I thought I would take some time to write you a letter pretending that you are sitting in your mansion with the biggest mug of highly caffeinated coffee and a box of Dunkin Donuts, which in Heaven have no calories.  🙂

Three years!!  Three long years but at the same time, three very short years.  How can it be that you’ve been gone for three years…1095 days…36 months.  At times it seems like just yesterday that I called you just to chat and get a feel for how much coffee you’ve digested.  I could always tell how much coffee had been consumed by how little I could get a word in.  🙂

There are days that missing you is a physical ache.  Like the day that Sarah got married and there was a yellow rose on the alter reminding us all that you were not there.  Or the day we took Kaitlyn to college and dropped her off for the first time, I ached to call you because I knew that you’d get me laughing about how Kaitlyn was going to reek havoc in Canada.  Or the time that Kenny and his family came to Maine to visit and your absence was so noticeable.  Or when Sarah and Jonathan told us that they were expecting and I sat in Wendy’s crying because I wanted to call you so badly.  Or even just the day to day events that I pick up the phone and start to dial your number and then realize that I don’t have THAT kind of long distance….Attleboro to Heaven!!  🙂

Do you know that I can not get through the song “Holy, Holy, Holy” without becoming a mess.  I told Mark that when you passed away, I thought that that was the end of you and I ever doing anything together again.  But when I sing that wonderful hymn, I picture you in the presence of God singing your little heart out and I realize that at that moment, you and I ARE doing something together.  We are worshipping the same God at the same time….you at the throne and me in Faith Alliance Church.  So that song reminds me that we can still do things at the same time and one day, we’ll be in the presence of our Savior worshipping together….side by side!

You would be so proud of your family.  I often pray that God can give you a wee glimpse of how well the kids and Rodney are doing. Esther is such a lovely young lady and everyone is in awe of her abilities.  We know that you had a huge hand in training her to become the young woman she is now.  Vernon is ahead over everyone….both in his character and height.  lol.  He really is a head over most of us.  And he still allows Aunt Terry to hug him and tell him that she loves him.  I can feel the grimace but I do it anyways…it builds character.  Elizabeth is such a lovely young lady.  She’s quiet like me….well, she’s quiet but she’s passionate about her Celtics. Katherine is so you.  Her sense of humor and quick comebacks make us feel as though you are contained in that little body.  Mary, oh my goodness, Mary!  She is going to be an actress. Her ability to mimic people and do impersonations….between her and Katherine, there is never a dull moment.  So my little sister.  🙂

Whenever I feel as though the weight of grieve is overwhelming, the Holy Spirit comes along and taps me on the shoulder and whispers
“Do not lose hope! Do not be overwhelmed! You will see her again.”  Praise God.  What a joy and comfort to know that you’ve just gone on ahead of us, you’re waiting for us.  But there are days that I have to put you in your place.  🙂  I have to refocus that seeing you is a side benefit to going home.  Being with our Savior should be my main reason for wanting to be in Heaven.  What Jesus has done for us by providing a way to spend eternity with our God (Abba), Jesus (Savior) and the Holy Spirit (Comforter)….wow!!  I’m so unworthy but so thankful.

So, Naomi, I’ll let you get back to your coffee mug that never needs to be refilled and your Boston Crème Donut that has no calories and your crossword puzzle that you know all the answers to.  I miss you more than words could ever convey.  You are the best sister that anyone could ask for.  Oh and could you polish up on your birds.  When I get to heaven and tell you “Oh, Naomi, the other day I saw this bird at the feeder. I’m going to explain it to you and you tell me what it was.”  I don’t want you to answer “Well, let me see. It could have been an emu or a hummingbird!!”  Work on that, would you?

I love you, Naomi!!

Your blessed sister,

Terry

Running my own marathon!

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This morning, Mark and I drove up to Natick, MA to witness, cheer on and just be part of this legendary Boston Marathon. In light of what happened last year in our beloved city of Boston, we just felt that we wanted to cheer on the runners. As we watched the wheelchair participants, we were in awe of their determination. They are all tucked into their wheelchairs with their heads down and eyes focused on the road and what’s ahead of them. Some were paralyzed and some were amputees, but all were determined and focused. And then the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of the times that I lose focus by the little distractions around me, little annoyances that are so insignificant in the bigger picture. I need to keep my eyes on the race, ignore the distractions on the sidelines and look toward the reward at the end.

At times I wondered “What does our cheering, screaming names, ringing cow bells and holding signs do for the runners?” And then, this dear lady ran by with her hands over her heart thanking the fans. She was very teary and we could see the gratefulness on her face. She seemed to gain some energy from the support of the crowds. And then the Holy Spirit reminded me of the verse in Hebrews 12:1 & 2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

If you ever want to get a picture of this verse, go to a marathon!  I was cheering on random people whom I have never met and whom I will probably never see again. I just kept thinking “There are days when I feel as though I’m running this race called ‘Life’ on my own, nobody really understands my frustrations, etc.” and then this verse reminds me that I, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, have this great cloud of witnesses cheering us on!  They know my name!  They know what I’m racing against and what I’m racing towards!  They are cheering me on from Heaven!! They are screaming, and I hope they have some cow bells, and they are yelling “Go, Terry!!!  You’re almost there!!  You’re almost over “Heartbreak Hill!”  You can do it!! Hang in there!!  Don’t give up now! Stay focused!  Don’t let the enemy distract you or slow you down!!”  What an encouragement for us believers to know that we have the likes of the saints of the Old and New Testament, family members and friends who have gone on before us cheering us on!!  I’m counting on my sister, Naomi to have a big old sign saying “Go Terry” and ringing her cow bell for me!!

Well, gotta run….my sneakers are ready to be laced up and hit the pavement!!

 

“I can’t hear you!!”

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Since Naomi’s “home-going”, I don’t listen to music from the 70’s. I find it too painful to remember the days of hanging out in the summers at our camp on Worthley Pond or staying up late in the room that we shared singing our hearts out to the popular hits from that era. In the van, the radio is set to the stations that play either the 50’s or 60’s or Christian music. So, I was a little surprised this morning when I got in the van, turned the radio on and the 70’s station was on. And the song that was playing was a favorite of Naomi’s. If you’ve never heard the song “Loving You” by Minnie Riperton then you’re missing out! 😉 Naomi used to call me and just start singing this painful song to me in her highest pitched voice!! And when she came to the ‘screaming part’ of this song, I was crying because I was laughing so hard! So today, as I was stopped at a traffic light, listening to this horrendous song, I was both laughing from remembering Naomi’s rendition and crying because I miss her so much. There are days when I ache to hear her voice again. I ache to hear her call me and tell me in her best Barney Fife voice “We’ve got a situation up here!”, I ache to hear her quote “Sense and Sensibility” or “Pride and Prejudice”. I ache to hear her when she’s had way too much coffee and she can hardly stop talking to take a breath.

So, as I was driving and wishing I could hear her voice again, I felt the Holy Spirit tap my on my shoulder and ask me “When was the last time you ‘ached’ to hear My voice?”  Ouch!!  How many days do I neglect spending time in the Word or sitting quietly waiting to hear the voice of the One who loves me more than Naomi ever could have? How many times do I fill my days with so much noise that I couldn’t hear His voice at all?  One of my dear sisters told me this week that she’s been trying to set time aside daily to just be quiet and listen for His voice.  I’ve noticed lately that I’m usually surrounded by noise; I either have music on or the tv.  I need to start taking time for quiet and meditation on what God has to say to me.

And there will be a day, when I will hear Naomi’s voice again…..and I’m hoping that she’s forgotten the lyrics to that painful song!!  🙂

Same Test, Different Day!

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Some days I feel as though I’m the main character in the movie “Groundhog Day”.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about this man who wakes up each morning and it’s Groundhog Day.  He can’t move on until he gets the day right.

I feel as though I keep having to take the same spiritual test over and over again until I get it right!  And anyone who knows me, knows that it sometimes takes a while for me to get it right.

This post should have started with “Hello, my name is Terry and I depend on people way too much!”  (That’s when all of you should respond with “Hello, Terry”)  🙂

For the past few years, our family has dealt with some major changes.  Family members moving, loved ones passing away and friendships that have moved on without us.  As someone who loves people, this has been extremely difficult.  Losing my sister had to be the hardest.  She was not only my sister but she was also my best female friend. Test number 1:  How on earth do I survive without Naomi?

Then we lost my dad.  Very tough in so many ways.  Test number 2: How do I move one without one of my parents?

This past summer has been very, very hard in our church family.  We have had some dear friends leave our congregation and some of them wish to no longer be part of my life.  I actually had a “sister” at our church put her hand on my shoulder and tell me that I had to stop reaching out to someone who doesn’t want to be contacted!  (How pathetic is that?!) Test number 3:  How can I possibly deal with this painful rejection?

Last night, as I was lying in bed, mourning all the different losses, I asked God “What on earth am I suppose to be learning here?  I can’t deal with many more tests? I don’t want to be “unfriended by anyone else!  I don’t want to be ignored!”  And then….you guessed it…I feel the gentle tap on my shoulder and hear “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Joshua 1:5b and Hebrews 13:5b) And I realized that, because I’m human and also a little thick headed, I put way too much faith in people who are going to let me down and who will leave me.  I put too much pressure on mere humans to make me feel loved, treasured, and important.  But that’s too big of a job for anyone.  It’s not fair to them, either.  I need to put my faith in Someone who will not leave me due to death, due to a re-location or due to a disagreement.  The only time that I will feel far from my Heavenly Father is if I’ve moved away from Him.  I can never, ever do anything so bad or hurtful that He would ever say “That’s it!  You’ve gone too far this time.  I’ve had it with you.”  He promises me that He will never leave me.  What a comfort to know that in this world, I have at least one friend that won’t ‘unfriend’ me.

So, hopefully I’ve learned and maybe I’ve passed this spiritual test….but I’m not holding my breath!  😉  I’ve got my pencil all sharpened for the next test.  I hope I’ve studied enough.  🙂

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