An Open Vessel

ThomasCalmasI have been on such a frenzy, prepping for the trip to Memphis, that this past week, I have not been answering calls, texts etc. I am truly blessed for all of your calls and texts – for each day I was met with fatigue and obligation. I was driven to get all the presents purchased and wrapped before I left Nolensville. There were family gifts, friends’ gifts, teacher gifts, class parties, dog care, home care, hair cuts, packing, etc. I started at the beginning of the week, but with arranging transportstion and working around everyone’s schedule…anyway …I worked myself into a “state.”  As great as I feel by having it all done, I fell out on Thursday night. When I woke Friday, I felt as though I would have to cancel the trip. I couldn’t find an ounce of energy to get up and “finish.” Thank God, I turned to God, for He is my everything. I cried out for mercy and forgiveness, for driving myself to the point of depletion, and expecting God to pick up the pieces. I have been cautioned by others, and myself, to gauge and temper my desire for busy-ness. I want to do so much, but things are different now. I actually want to do “more,” feeling I may miss my chance, or run out of time. I prayed for another “chance” if God would give me just one more day to press forward. Then I prayed again – for forgiveness (for running things MY way) and gave thanks, for God lifted me up. Picture this, for you’ll witness God’s awesomeness. Friday morning, as I lay helpless and hopeless, I faced defeat. I had acted poorly, and now must face the consequences of my reckless, self-willed abandon. I would have to miss Clayton’s pageant and postpone the trip. The pageant had been the real impetus for a Friday arrival, and something we had been promising Clayton all week. I had blown it! Not one to favor self indulgent martyrdom, I turned to Jesus my savior and Lord…and to Saint Peregrine, to help me face my affliction and suffering.  God knows what is best. I asked for forgiveness, and humbly asked for help. I received the strength and courage to *take my meds, *drink the blessed holy water given to me by the Sisters of Mercy and “sister” Cecilia, *pray to the Blessed Saint Albert and Saint Peregrine, patron saint of cancer, gifted to me by my dear friends Lisa and Denise. I read from texts shared by my mother and friend Chris, words of reflection for insight deeper into the Scripture, and the focus on everything present and real…meditation on the right now. (No, I am not Catholic or Buddhist or other. I am a little bit of everything which brings me closer to God.). I was able to get up and get ready. I worked in accordance with my family, not to stress or upset the rhythm. As we were ready to leave on time, I had a few personal care set backs, which delayed our departure. I continued to move in sync and believe we would receive everything needed to make this trip, and arrive to the pageant on time.  On the way, we hit traffic due to an accident. We had many bathroom breaks. We arrived late with no spare time for dinner, change of clothes, etc. We all remained calm, positive and  ”in the game.” Plan B was reasoned, to eat a quick fast food snack, some of us change clothes in the darkness of the car and dim lit parking area, and arrive just AT time for the pageant to begin. Despite the challenges of the day and subsequent fatigue and angst, behavior was at an all time best…against all odds.  This is where I once again invite you to witness and know the Lord.  As a Christian, a parent, and a cancer survivor! among other things, I account this event as a full blown MIRACLE!!! There is no way I would, this could, have have happened without my turning everything over to the care of God. When I turn my life over to the daily whims of life, perceived needs and well thought out actions…I receive only empty selfish gains and empty promises. When I open myself to the full power of God and all the riches He has to offer, not only to lead my life but to guide my actions based on truth…I receive true life and all it has to offer.  Many friends have shared with me recently that they were so moved by my words and testimony. I say that I only speak the words that channel through me…words that come, not from me, but from The Lord.

Dear Lord,
Help me speak your fragrance wherever I go.
Flood my soul with your Spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may only be a radiance of yours.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul.Let them look up, and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.
The light, O Jesus, will be all from you; none of it will be mine. It will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise you in the way that you love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears for you.
I have arrived in Memphis, safe and sound.  The pageant was beautiful in every sense and Clayton was overjoyed, seeing his friends, and participating in the final number of the show.  Today, as desired, I attended “my” visitation reception, seeing many, many friends and loved ones.  As Gordon so perfectly stated…”it was better than perfect.”   In course with my dream list…our next destination:  Wilsonville.  May our dreams continue to come true, miracles abound.Will keep you posted.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who helped to make the pageant and the visitation reception…better than perfect.  Thanks to all of you who attended, and to those of you who were unable to attend, who lifted us up in prayer.Much love and big hugs.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!Peri

The Story of Life

52b0133e4db921666e2ffd97“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

This past week, it was suggested to me that “it is time.” It is time to tell the children the full story of my battle with cancer, and what this means for our future. I believe it is the job of the social worker to ask some tough questions, and keep me in the present…in order to best prepare for my….what? Death?

It is not that I am opposed to this idea. In fact, for the past three years the reality of a “nearing” death has been a constant in the conversation. With each doctor visit, treatment session, procedure, etc…no one ever failed to mention that death was possible. Yes, ’tis true. And as we know, to speak of death on a lighter note, folks will say, “Well we all are going to die. You just don’t know when.” So, live every day like it is your last, right? Always keep that lamp burning. Yet, it seems glib. Does one who is not facing death really look at it? Do we really wake each morning and say, “Wow, this could be my last. Better make the most of it?” Well, guess what? I DON’T!!

This is weird and unnatural to me. I am so alive each and every day, I just can’t really focus on death. Okay, I do think about it. When I have a day that is not my best…my belly is bloated, I feel ill, I am weak and more confused than usual…my imagination will wander temporarily. “This is it,” I say. My cancer is growing with a vengeance and it is taking over my body. It has metastasized to my brain. I am short of breath so it must be in my lungs too. Blah, blah. But these thoughts only last moments, and then I move on to life.

When told to talk to the children, Gordon and I felt equipped. We have a good relationship with the kids, and we too have been talking about the what ifs all along. We have answered their questions/comments, which have come from my most recent hospitalization. “Are you going to get better?” “How long will your cancer last?” “We like you the way you used to be.” With the prolonged condition of my being “sick,” it is hard to ignore or deny that something is amiss. When Gordon and I discussed when, what and how to talk to the children about “the truth,” the task seemed more challenging. So what to do? It was Friday night, and we had committed ourselves to talk to the children over the weekend.

Well I first called upon the one who is my greatest spiritual guide and teacher. “Okay Jesus, I am begging for help because I have no idea what I am doing and cannot do this without you!!” I sat in my prayer chair and meditated, waiting for that bonk on the head which would reveal the entire spiel. I then called my “second” greatest spiritual guide and teacher. “Okay Carla, what’s the word? How do I do this?” She had a great suggestion that hit me right in the gut with YES!!! this is exactly what I feel and believe!! I am not trying to tell the children about death. I am wanting and needing to tell the children about life. Last, but not least, I consulted my love and very best friend. “Okay Gordon, what do think about this idea? I need you desperately by my side, because I am weak and fearful. I need sound feedback and a strong, comforting hand to hold.” He of course was there for me, for us, 100% with an unwavering hand and steadfast heart. Carla sent me some written material about a story of life, and how I could tie in “the talk” with the story of Christmas, the birth and life of Jesus. Gordon and I developed a narrative, appropriate for young ears, and enticing to young listeners…a participatory story.

On Sunday morning, we went to church and the music was beautiful. I was drenched in the love of God and the warm comfort of my family. I was feeling good about the day, and knew I had great support. God is always there for me, and all would be taken care of. The sermon for the morning? O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL! We sang this hymn along with many others, and then the sermon followed incorporating the story of Jesus’ birth:

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God is such a great and awesome God. Sunday afternoon, we decorated the tree, and had family story time to hear the story of Christmas, the story of life. I too have a story of life, through Jesus. I am living life (and living large I might add) on Earth at this time, to love, listen, learn, share and serve to the best of my ability. I strive to be an example to those around me, as I dedicate myself to be Jesus like….a good teacher and a great friend. I am unworthy, but through Christ, I am given mercy. The “talk” went really well. Some tears, some reflection, more questions. It has since opened more honest and open discussion, and I feel free of the burden of the “hidden” secret.

Yahoo!!!! I AM ALIVE!!!

So, on a few side notes…I would like to share some info tidbits of what I know today, and what (I hope) is to come.

My health is still a challenge. I am for the most part status quo, but I fatigue very easily. I can do modified activities during the day, but also require one-two naps. I sit and lie down a lot. Talking to others is even fatiguing at times. I must reserve my energy to enjoy life on daily basis, and not get too run down. I have instituted boundaries for myself to make sure this happens, and have solicited the assistance of family and close friends to help “enforce” my needed rest breaks.

Dream List
As mentioned, while on Earth I am living loud and large. I have adopted a list of things I would like to do while still around. It is not a bucket list, but more of a dream list. I want to do these things, and if not able, I request that friends and family carry on – in honor/tribute of me. It will be an expression of my LIFE, and not a memorial of my death. Also, anything you can do to assist me in completing the following would be greatly appreciated (prayer, physical help, monetary assistance, cards, posts, emails, etc.) My six dreams:

1) Visit Memphis family for one week over Christmas break
2) Visit Calma/Mace family weekend after New Years
3) Celebrate my 50th birthday with a dear friend here in Nolensville (my bday is Feb 4 and hers is Feb 6. She is NOT turning 50 :) We need some get ‘er done, gung ho, party planners
4) Go on family vacation over spring break March 16-23-FLORIDA!! I am applying with the dream foundation for assistance, and have booked the trip on a wing and a prayer
5) Join I have joined a new friend in a goal to complete the Zydeco marathon in Lafayette on March 30th, 2014. Two women and a team of others are going to push me in a jog stoller in one final marathon (my goal for the past three years to complete a marathon by 50yo). The team includes my oldest children and their oldest children. We will walk/run the race for completion.
6) To enter my family photos into memory books and journal about the events, a tribute of love and a legacy to the family. My dear friend Johanna Lehfeldt is spearheading this enormous task and I know would greatly appreciate anything and everything you might to do to help “work against the clock.” She is mounting the pictures, and I am journaling the info…one page, one book, at a time :)

A Reception in Memphis:
All friends and family are most welcome to attend. Please pass the word to everyone, so all know about this event. I will NOT be able to get out and about during the week to visit with folks individually. I will also not be able to entertain at the Thomas house during the week. To best provide a time to meet with so many dear friends that I want to see while in Memphis, Carla, Saralene and Velma have helped me in scheduling a “visiting” reception. This will allow me to see a lot of folks in a short time, thus adhering to my need to NOT overdo.

2:00pm to 4:00pm
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Balmoral Presbyterian Church
6413 Quince Road Memphis, TN 38119

If you like, please bring a snack to share. Coffee and Lemonade will be provided

The church sits behind the pines off Quince between Kirby Road and Ridgeway. Enter the church through the door nearest to the big wooden cross.

Can’t wait to see you guys soon, and love you, love you!!!

Peri Other ways to help the Thomas Family, please visit the following websites:

Address Requests

Hello everyone and Happy Monday.  Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

I will send a post soon.

Until, will you PLEASE send your mailing address to my email address. I am wanting to get out Christmas cards and would love to send you one. Even if you think I have it…please send again. If you need my email address, please let me know.

Thanks !!
Post to you soon.


Peri ClaytonPeri