i hate walking on rocks with my bare feet

rocks hurt

they poke
they prod

rocks tear

tender skin
revealing tissue, muscle
life

my skin is shredded
by precancerous polyps
by bear’s stutter
by the word WAIT

rocks make me
jump skip leap
from fear to fear to fear
EACH TIME
landing on a jagged edge

i hate rocks

i beg for relief
i beg for comfort
i beg God

STANDING FIRM

on the rocks
i wait for HIM

Imageby a broken homeskillet

together is better

two boys. one ball. total chaos

my guys are outside playing basketball.

thing 1 is trying to teach thing 2 how to shoot.

it’s complete chaos.  there is a clear breakdown of communication, and the entire lesson lasts less than 2 minutes.

the basketball lesson morphs into a sing along of,  “toot tooty tooty, that’s what my baby says, toot tooty tooty” —  a nonsensical song full of toot sounds, silly dance moves, and genuine boy giggles.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-- these feet mean b-ball business

the song and dance break lasts another 2 minutes.  this stops long enough for the boys to grab their monster feet slippers — clearly, basketball is better in monster feet.

thing 1 tries to get back to business with a lesson on pivots and dribbling.

i hear thing 1 saying things like, “dribble, dribble, dribble, pivot, jump, and score.”  while thing 2 dances around and asks big brother to try to hit the frisbee he’s holding as a shield in front of his face.  obviously, thing 2 is a pro in the making.

but, then, something sweet happens… they start playing TOGETHER.

i get to watch thing 1 let baby brother “steal” the ball, drive to the basket, and shoot as many times as it takes for him to make 2 points.  then the hubs and i hear thing 2‘s little voice cry out, “I’M THE WINNER!  I GET THE TROPHY!” he’s got huge grin on his face waving his trophy in the air–  which is just the frisbee used a few minutes ago as a shield.  big brother is singing, “go, bear, go!!!”

SOOOOOOOO.great.for.my.heart.

i’m writing this brief, insignificant moment down, so i remember.  when this moment passes, and the boys begin to bicker over who’s fastest, who’s smarter, who can jump farther– i’ll remember on a random, sunday afternoon, the stars aligned, and the boys dropped being competitive and just played TOGETHER.

i hope remembering this moment will get me through the silly fights they’re sure to have, the snippy remarks they’re sure to say, and will keep me focused on the prize i pray for night and day.

i pray for two boys living, sharing, celebrating life TOGETHER.

because at the end of all the boyhood battles- being TOGETHER really is better.

it’s christmas time, y’all!

holla!  it’s time to deck the halls and celebrate baby Jesus.  ooooooooo OOOOOO!

in honor of tiny, little baby Jesus sleeping in the animal food bowl, i thought i’d create a list dedicated to what He’s taught me this year– homeskillet style.

1.  my ways are not his ways, yo.

i’ve learned i do not naturally love like Christ, think like Christ, act like Christ.  i wish i did, but i don’t.  i mess up so much just because i over think, i don’t listen, or i get scared.  super glad this year i finally accepted my limitations and asked for guidance.  i’m totally still a super big mess.  i will be until the day i die, but i pray when that day comes my nature looks more like tiny baby Jesus.

2.  love means i say i’m sorry, word.

remember the movie with ryan o’neal and ali mcgraw called “love story”??  there’s this classic scene where o’neal’s character has royally screwed up, and ali, with her perfect ’70’s hair, says, “love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

what is THAT all about???  seriously.  that’s alllllllllllllllll love is about.

it’s about putting the other person first, and i can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s NOT  how i roll most of the time.  i can be selfish, pushy, impatient, critical, and downright mean.

what would my marriage look like, how would my boys feel, how many true friendships would i have, if i NEVER said i was sorry for not loving well???

i pray i own my mistakes and tell the ‘skillets  i love “I’M SORRY”– because those are some powerful words.

3.  obedience is scary, fo’ realz.

last night i met with a new ‘skillet, and as we began to share our stories,  we kept coming back to the same thought– we don’t want to miss what God wants to do with us, through us, for us.  we looked at each other all excited and said, “we just don’t want to miss it!”

how do we do that?  i think it’s a moment to moment decision to seek God’s will.  now, that’s a tall order.  just thinking about how many times i haven’t lived that way makes me wonder how many times i’ll fail in the future.  dude.  that thought alone can paralyze me.  obedience, all the time, forever and ever, is a scary proposition.  but, here’s the thing, i don’t have to eat the elephant all at once.  i just have to be willing to seek God, be willing to wait for a clear direction, and then be brave enough to move my feet.  i pray i have a lifetime of  “don’t miss it” moments.

4.  my home is my mission, holla.

this one shakes me down.  my knees get all weak, and i feel light-headed.  my boys and my husband are IT.

i am not equipped, there’s no clear checklist, and if i fail THEY will suffer.

i clearly need help, encouragement–  and, from time to time, a couple of cupcakes to make this reality go down a little easier.

i’m sooooooooooooooooooooo thankful God has given me an army of women to help me battle my own insecurities and fears when it comes to how i be these things called “wife” and “mother”.  God started putting my army together as early as elementary school.  He added forces through high school, college, and through my time in memphis i gained wonderful sisters for life and, now, in the ‘boro i am finding awesome ‘skillets to share my story.

each and every woman makes me better.  each word of advice helps my children and my fella.  each word of love helps me to stop the critical voice inside my head–  and, each cupcake keeps my sugar level just high enough to make it through the day.

5.  God loves me deeply, dude.

i have felt this more and more as this year has passed.  i’m grateful to feel down to my bones that there is nothing i can do to drive God away.

i can not look like Him, and He loves me anyway.  i can take too long to say, “I’M SORRY” and he loves me anyway.  i can be disobedient or just miss His direction completely, and He loves me anyway.  i can feel inadequate and not enough for my boys and my guy, and He loves me anyway.

He loves me so much He sent His only son to die for me. 

seriously.  baby Jesus ROCKS y’all.

shaved head and stuff

so.  my hair.

hair today....

i shaved it allllll off yeah i did!!

here’s the deal.  my hair was coming out in handfuls since my second chemo treatment, and i have an obsessive personality, to a point.

so, hair loss + a bit of o.c.d = me constantly raking my hands through my hair, wondering how MUCH would fall out the next time i shampooed.  then, when i actually DID shower i would wash and re-wash my hair until the water ran cold, watching my hair clog the drain.  i’d clean that mess up, and move on to blow-drying my hair, which took longer than usual, because i’d have to stop and clean out the sink full of hair.  fun times.

gross hair nest

5 days.  that’s all i could take.   it was juuuuuuust long enough to make me snap.  i called the hubby into our bathroom and held out my hands filled with a nest of hair, and said, “i’m ready to let this go.”

my heart was pounding, i was nauseated and jittery just thinking about what this statement MEANT.  i had been recovering from an unfortunate mullet for more than a year and had just grown my hair long enough to get it into tiny dog-ears.  i did NOT want to lose my hair.  i did NOT want to do this.

but, i hated the alternative even more– letting my hair loss become my focus.  letting the number of hair follicles on my head determine if i was happy or sad.  seriously, how lame is THAT.

i can get fixed on how i look very fast, homeskillets.

remember, i’m the girl that rocks a gimpy arm and leg.   i’m the girl that battles both acne and wrinkles on a month-to-month basis.   i have my issues, real or imagined, and i know my mind can become a place of nasty with a quickness.

i truly love who i am.  i love how God made me.  it’s taken me a long time to not operate out of a place of protection, and to not put my worth in other’s opinion of me.  so, i wasn’t gonna let hair or the lack of hair get me tangled up–(get it– hair/tangled?!  super cheesy perfection)– no matter how scary shaving my head seemed.

the hubby was on board, and we wanted to make sure we included thing 1 and thing 2.  i explained that the cancer-fighting medicine was working really well, one of the ways we could tell was because my hair was coming out, and since it was happening anyway, i had decided to shave my head.

i could tell this was a lot to take in.  so,  i said,

“the enemy can use a simple thing like hair to distract me from what God has done– we found the tumor early, i had it removed, and He has brought so many people around us while we walk through this step.  i can either focus on the loss of my hair or focus on God’s goodness and provision.  i choose God. “

i don’t know if they fully understood, but i pray years from now, when life hits hard, they’ll l have this moment to help them decide to choose God, too.

through sickness and in health...

it was time.  the clippers were ready.  and, there was no turning back.  i was soooooooo scared.  thankfully, an awesome ‘skillet brought a cupcake and a bottle of wine.  she documented the event, and cheered me on.

my hubby was amazing. truly.  he was so sweet, so gentle, and very loving through the whole sheering process.  i love the picture of him working on my fade… awesome.  i didn’t realize how intimate a process it would be.  i’m so glad it was a quiet moment with a wonderful sista friend and my man.

the whole process took about 20 minutes.  more than a years worth of awkward hair stages– gone, in 20 minutes.

seriously.

i went to the bathroom and got the first glimpse of my melon.

my head felt so light i thought it might float right off my body.  i saw my brother’s face staring back at me, in drag.

it. was. freaky.

after the initial shock,  i felt totally rockin’.

hardcore. to. the. max.

sweet freedom

and, free.

free from the fear of what could happen.

free to focus on the GREAT moments and people all around me.

free to focus on the good days.

God has used a simple hairdo to give me more freedom and strength for the 10 more chemo treatments ahead–  which, for me,  has put a whole new spin on Philippians 4:13:

i can ‘do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

(get it– hairdo/’do?!  i kill me!!)

booyah

boy oh boy.

chemo is not fun.  my mouth tastes like metal, my tummy is upset, i’m completely nauseated, my hair is falling out.

but, i keep telling myself i get to choose whether the symptoms will win.

during the first week of chemo, i fought hard.  i had my sister to visit and breaking dawn to watch.  i could not be sick.  it was hard to fight, and it left me wasted.  now, i’m in my second session of chemo, and i decided i would just give in to the sickness.  this has been just as hard!  i don’t like feeling weak.

i.am.wasted.

so, do i get to choose?  i mean, really?  do i?  i fight or give in, and at the end of it all, i’m left spent.  God, i need help.  i obviously can’t do this in my own strength, but submitting entirely makes me feel so far away from You.   where’s the middle ground?

my hair is coming out– and, all i keep thinking is God knows EVERY hair on my head.  He knew this part of my story before the creation of the world.  so, do i get to choose?  God, i need help.  i know that You love me.  please show me Your love.

these are my thoughts today.  this is where my heart is.  and this is how God has answered me:

Sending a virtual “booty bump” your way. Just my way of saying Booyah, girl, you are on my mind!

Booyah baby!!!!

hopes his amazing wife spends the five hours she’s hooked up to that machine today remembering how very, very, very much she’s loved. And that this is but a season. 2nd round of chemo today. Let’s kick this week in the rear and move forward. Extra prayers, everyone?

Wearing my BOOYAH shirt today too! Every time I look down, I’ll say a prayer for my amazing friend.

these are just a handful of comments that have been left on a special facebook page set up by a friend.  i have had dinner delivered to my door every night since chemo.  i have had friends come and sit with me, drop by just to give me a hug,offer to get inked as a sign of solidarity, and send pictures of the word “booyah” on fishing tackle, and written on windows in china.

holla. this too shall pass...

so.  yes.

i DO get to choose– not the symptoms or if they’ll get the best of me, but my God.  the way i feel cannot limit God’s power and love–  each and every person who has loved on me or prayed for my family proves God is bigger than chemo.

i get to choose.

i get to choose if i’ll honor God through the struggle.  i get to choose if i’ll rest in the overwhelming love He’s shown me through my amazing homeskillets.

i.get.to.choose.

and, i choose booyah.

under the big top

life is truly a circus.  it’s filled with tight rope acts, flaming rings of fire and, if your lucky, cotton candy.  this year, my big top housed some amazing acts–   three rings of constant change and surprises.

i thought to honor turkey day i’d take a moment to reflect on my crazy circus–  and try to be thankful for each and every spectacular, life-changing moment in 2011.

so, homeskillets, here’s my pre-turkey thankful list with a big top twist.

clearly, He needs a megaphone for me

first and foremost i’m super grateful the BIG MAN upstairs is my ring master.  i can’t imagine what i’d be like today if i hadn’t handed my life to God eight years ago.  i was a mess right after i had thing 1.  i was lost and sad and empty.  BUT GOD.  He opened my eyes and my heart.  this circus would be one clown car closer to crazy town without him.

sweet moments make my life better

second, i’m so glad i got a beautiful, cotton candy moment in june when the Lord (and many of you) allowed me to go to haiti.  this experience changed my life.  i have new friends because of this trip–  women of all ages and  at different stages of life.  i feel so blessed to know each and every one of these sweet ‘skillets, and it wouldn’t have happened without this trip.  i also got to feel for 6 sweet days just how big God is.  He has no limits and He can use me in spite mine.  my haiti experience was definitely a cotton candy moment–  so sweet.  thank you,  homeskillets for helping me go!  i love you all.

my nemesis, seriously

third on my list are some tightrope moments.  i believe the tightrope is my biggest nemesis in the circus.  a tightrope represents ultimate balance, concentration, and confidence.  there have been times this year i haven’t had any of those, and i could feel myself falling.  one of these moments came before haiti.  i was struggling as a mom.  i felt as if my skin was too tight, the rooms were too small, and my boys were too much.  i was off balance.  my concentration was gone.  and, i was questioning myself and my abilities every second.  BUT GOD.  thankfully, He has provided awesome help for me when my anxiety/depression gets the best of me.  thank God for counseling and medication!  can i get a word and holla.  fo’ realz.

Lord, refine me

and, i can’t close out my thankful list without being thankful for the flaming rings of life.  i’m walking through the fire as i type.  cancer and chemo are my flames.  i am thankful because through the flames i will be refined.  i will be able to lean into the Lord and my faith even more.  i will learn just how weak i am, and just how strong God is.  so, i say with a thankful heart, bring it on!!

there it is.   a year under this homeskillet’s big top.

cancer, prison, and a tooth

so.  where do i begin???

i think i’ll begin with a great God moment, that always makes my day better.

to share this coolness, i have to start way back on september 21st.  this is the day i found out i had colon cancer.

yep.

cancer.

dude.  I KNOW. right??!!

so.  there i was all cancered up, when my sweet sister calls from prison.

yep.

prison.

dude. SERIOUSLY.  i know!

and, the conversation goes like this–

me:  “hi, boobah!!  i love you!  miss you!”

boobah:  “hey, sista love!  love and miss you more.  so…. what did you find out?”

me:  “i have cancer.”

boobah:  “really?? well, i lost my front tooth today.”

yep.  go ahead.  re-read it to take it ALL in.

the quick re-cap shows one cancerous sister and one gap-toothed jailbird, or “jail boobah”.

i guess it could be worse.  IT DEFINITELY COULD BE WORSE.

so, i tried consoling her.  i used the old, “well, in some cultures toothless-ness makes women more attractive.”

breakdown by tooth, yo

she wasn’t having any of it, and i realized boobah may not need me to make her feel better.  she may just need me to listen.  so, i asked her how she was feeling… and, this, sweet ‘skillets, is when boobah broke.  finally.  after more than a year of being super strong, my sister was stripped down by a tooth.

and the meltdown went something like this–

boobah:  “i’m pissed!  i’m pissed i got drunk and tried to drive home.  i’m pissed i hurt two other people.  i’m pissed i lost my job.  i’m pissed i’m in prison.  i’m pissed i lost my tooth, and i’m pissed you have cancer!”

me:  “well, then let’s pray… GOD, we’re pissed.  we’re pissed, and we know You’re big enough to hear our anger.  You’re big enough to take our broken hearts.   You promise that guilt and shame do NOT come from You.  So, we refuse to let those feelings stick.  we know You promise to work all things for our good.  so, we choose to trust You with prison, and cancer, and teeth.  we choose to see ourselves as You see us… we are beautiful children of God, and that beauty has nothing to do with how we look, what we’ve done,  where we are,  or what’s inside of us.  we choose hope and faith.  HOLLA!”

i know this might sound upside down, but it was actually GOOD to hear her confess her anger.  God promises confession will be met with mercy and forgiveness, and  i believe this.

sooooooooo, now we fast forward to my visit with boobah just last week–  the week marked my first chemo treatment, and put boobah 5 months away from her release date.

no tooth, no problem!

and, here’s the awesome truth– my sister bounced into the room with the biggest gap-toothed grin i’ve ever seen!!  i.love.this.girl.

to give the best mental picture i can, i have to break down my girl’s appearance:

  •     her hair is super, duper short with boy sideburns.  (picture kate gosselin, the prison version)
  •    her attire is equivalent to a gas station attendant minus the embroidered name tag
  •    her tooth– missing.

i share this just to show how amazing boobah’s spirit is–  she’s living day to day, making the best of her circumstances, without an ounce of femininity or softness in sight.

she. BOUNCED. into.the. room.with. a. HUGE GRIN!!!!

awesome.

as we visited, she asked me how i was–  the truth of it is, i was NOT good.  my first chemo treatment had hit me hard.  i was very sick, and could barely keep my eyes open from fatigue, but there was no way i was missing this visit.

so, i looked at her and said–

me:  “honestly, i don’t want to do this eleven more times.”

boobah: (holding my hand)  “i don’t want to do 5 more months, but we CAN and we WILL.”

gah!!!!!!  she kills me.  in the best way.  i’m so proud of her.

we had a great, awesomely-amazing two day visit–  full of laughing.  LAUGHING.  her smile, her light even brighter after being stripped down.  God is awesome.  He truly took her broken, angry heart and turned it into confidence in something more than how her hair is cut, what clothes she has to wear, or what she physically looks like.  her confidence and beauty come from her heart, and her heart is His.

holla!

this would be enough, but God likes to show off a bit, i think– just to remind me how BIG he is.

boobah has a very close ‘skillet she’s known since high school.  this sweet girl came to visit my sister as soon as the accident happened and calls me to check on boobah’s progress.  this girl also follows me on facebook, so she knows everything that i share there.  wellllll…. this friend, this girl that has been watching and praying from the sideline married a DENTIST.

and, her husband has offered to fix boobah’s tooth, no charge.

this girl is truly boobah’s toothfairy!

super cool 'skillet

yep.

free tooth, yo.

dude.  FO’ REALZ. i know!

that’s all i got.  i mean, i can’t follow a free tooth.

ninja skilz

i totally ran 5 miles on saturday.  it was great.   i wish i had some super cool trauma to report, but the morning was pretty calm. 

even though the run did not bring the drama, something did happened that was really random and just may be my undoing!  so, all of you that enjoy my suffering–  just wait.  it’s coming.

i reconnected with a peep  i met last summer on the trail. 

(when i say “met” i really mean “distracted” when i raised the roof and threw a few ooooo OOOOOO’s  her way every time we ran past each other). 

i was threading my car key through my shoelace when i spotted her–

i was all, “hi!  remember me?!”

and, she was all, “yeah!  you haven’t been here since last summer!”

and, i was all, “dude!  why you gotta call a sistah out like that, DANG!”

but, i let it go–   i understand that some running folks don’t fully embrace my philosophy of a six month rest period after a race.  whatever.

then she was all, “you’re tracey, right?”

i was all, “yeah!  WOW!  great memory!  and, your name is becky….. christy……”

and, she was all, “no.  i’m mary.”

then i lamely chuckled and said, “huh.  that was my next guess.”

but, she let it go.  because CLEARLY this woman has super ninja name-remembering skilz that i don’t possess–  how else would she  remember my name after  i yelled it out one time, 6 months ago, while i was running by her.   it’s pretty obvious i cannot be faulted for mary being a name ninja. 

after the total name fail i changed the subject real quick.  i asked her if she ran all year long.

SHE DOES.

she only STOPS  running  if the temperature drops below 20 degrees.

that is hardcore ‘skillets.  seriously.

then, i heard myself saying something INSANE.

i was all, “awesome!  do you think i could jump into your runs after the half marathon so i can stay on track?”

and, then the {name ninja/never takes a break girl} or ‘MARY’ was all, “sure.  but, what do i get out of the deal?”

then, no lie, i waved my hands all vanna white-style from the top of my head to my feet and said, “you get to run with all of this.”

thankfully, mary  let the comment slide, without pointing and laughing at me.

which made me think–  maybe i have ninja skilz of my own.

super-mad skilz that keep me from getting mocked when i make ridiculous statements.

but, seriously.  all ninja-ness aside.  let’s address the crazy situation my spontaneous response has gotten me into–  i’m now committed to running all year long.

dudes.

let the pain and suffering commence!