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.

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.

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.



dude.  I KNOW. right??!!

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

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!!!!


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.


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


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 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.


let the pain and suffering commence!

a bottle of wine and a full length mirror

i was suppose to run 5 miles saturday.  i planned on running outside and early.  instead, i ran 3 miles– late in the afternoon, on a treadmill.  i was foiled by a late night and a bottle of wine.

guess what— a night of wine consumption makes me sluggish, and it makes my head hurt, and it makes running not so fun.

so.  there i was.  nursing dehydration and slug-like tendencies.  i knew i had to get some kind of run in, but even thinking about running outside, in the sun, made me want to blow chunks.  which left me with no choice, i was gonna have to do a treadmill run–  in front of a WALL of mirror.

i thought running was painful BEFORE??

guess what—  seeing my reflection added a new dimension to the trauma.

mirrors are mean. seriously.

i’ve decided mirrors are rude, and any mirror of a super-sized nature is NOT my homeskillet.  fo’ realz.

see.  that rude reflector of truth shattered my last shred of runner dignity.  it made it very clear i look completely wack when i run.

i mean, i don’t intentionally go for freaky, but  that mean mirror made it clear that the combination of my unique breathing technique to avoid the dreaded side-stitch, and the freestyle hand movements i use to punctuate the music piped in through my m&m ear-buds kinda keeps all potential cool points at bay.   (yes.  i have blue m&m ear-buds.  no.  they are NOT taking off cool points all by themselves.  seriously.)

here’s the thing–  when i run outside i can at least pretend i look cool.  in my head i look AWESOME.  i’m all hardcore and serious.  i am an athlete with athletic skills and stuff.  and with one run that darn mirror killed my dream.  that mirror is a dream killer.

i tried to tweak my moves — you know to match the dream with reality.  i pulled myself up straight–   to lessen the defeated, downtrodden look my normal posture portrays.  i tucked my arms in tight–  to lessen the bird flap quality i didn’t know existed until that mirror killed my fantasy.  i tried putting more of a bounce in my stride–  so i didn’t look so dejected.  also super cool— my wide head band made my head look incredibly tiny.  which made my body look freakishly off  balance.  awesome.

shrunken head syndrome.

not good.

just sayin’.

so.  the first attempt to get a long run in was a total fail.  but, i did learn an important lesson– a bottle of wine and a full length mirror should be cut completely out of my training regimen.