Love and Ashes

Let me begin by wishing you all a Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you. Even if I’ve never met you in person. You being here has helped me start my day, every day, for the last fifteen months.

Thank you.

I’m still trying to figure out if Quinn is going to school. He slept with me last night, and has been more clingy. I’m noticing that happens whenever I have oncology appointments or when I spend more time on the couch.He may be a nine year old boy, but he is dealing with some pretty big stuff for a tiny human.

We all are, actually.

For some, today is all about romantic dinners, flowers, cards, and love.

For some, it’s a painful day of broken promises relived, loved ones lost, and lonely nights that feel even lonelier.

Which is why I am so glad that it’s Ash Wednesday.

Hear me out…

I used to think it was weird to get black stuff smeared in your head. I would see people with the black smudge and want to wipe it off.

I didn’t realize how much it meant.

The ashes are so important. They are made from the palms from Palm Sunday the year before.

When we are babies and get baptized, we have the sign of the cross out onto our heads with water.

Water is invisible.

It’s an invisible branding that we belong to Jesus.

Today, millions of Christians will get a visible mark on their head to show everyone that they belong to Jesus.

Ashes are also a reminder of death. As God told Adam in Genesis, “Remember that you are of dust, and to dust you will return”.

Not that I need any more reminders of death, but I think some people need to remember that one day, their body will become dust again, and their soul will be in Heaven.

There was something I read that struck me this morning.

Jesus have a sermon where he spoke about secrets.

One had to do with alms giving. Don’t let your right hand know what the left hand is doing. Do good deeds, but don’t blurt it out so everyone can see what you did. That’s doing it for the fame, not the faith.

Fasting too. A little less food for you, maybe more for others. But do we complain about it, or do it in secret.

Prayer as well. Some people feel we are truly heard best in churches. Even Martin Luther prayed by a window to make sure God could hear him better.

But Jesus spoke of doing these in secret.

Wait, what?

This is the selfie Snapchat generation!

Why do anything if others can’t see how good I am?

Thats like the old saying, “If a tree falls in the woods, does it still make a sound?”

But it’s near the end of Jesus’s sermon where it hits home.

“Your father, who sees in secret…”

The works are done in secret.

And the father sees in secret.

Which means, he sees you from wherever you are.

He is in the secret places of your soul, your mind, and your heart.

He sees it all, and rewards you with something that can’t be seen, like a secret.

With grace and mercy.

A promise of everlasting life.

So today, you may have public admirers on this Valentines Day.

Go ahead and love them deeply.

Or…

You may feel lonely.

Know you are loved deeply.

We all have a secret admirer who is the best kept secret that is shouted and praised and spoken about.

Jesus.

Today, we are all loved.

Happy Valentines Day.

Happy Ash Wednesday.

Be love.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Fat Tuesday

Growing up, Fat Tuesday was a day when I would see on the news pictures of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. People would eat and drink in excess, lots of drunken revelry, parades, music, and women would be encouraged to lift their shirts to get beads.

This whole Lenten season has snuck up on me this year, and as what happens when life altering things come into one’s life, perceptions change. It’s so much more than beads and beer.

I’m also learning a lot about Lutherans, Catholics, Christians, the Bible, and history.

I looked up Fat Tuesday and found out it’s also called Shrove Day, or pancake day. People used to use up all of their rich foods like eggs, butter and milk before fasting, and what better to make than pancakes? Some even make doughnuts. In certain places, they have pancake races, and tell a story of a woman who was late to church and when she heard the bell ringing, ran out of the house still flipping pancakes.

True story.

Or not.

That’s the thing. They didn’t have technology back then to know.

But we do have the Bible.

In some faiths, Fat Tuesday was made up for people to eat as much as they can of the things and food they were giving up for the next forty days of Lent. They felt that by fasting, they would be forgiven.

Some Lutherans have started taking part in it, but I think most don’t. Lutherans believe we are already forgiven. We are saved by faith alone in Christ. Doing things that men have added and said to do in the years since doesn’t make you get to Heaven faster.

(It’s also a little strange to say your going to give something up, but first let me eat twenty pancakes, drink a lot of beer, and hey! I’ll give you some beads if you show me some boob.., I don’t think any of the disciples wrote that in the New Testament…)

Yes, Lent is a season to remember the last days of Jesus. How He walked this Earth and suffered so that we could walk in Heaven and celebrate.

But let’s keep the gratefulness in our hearts all year long. Not just for the season.

Every day we breathe we are forgiven.

Our sins have been paid for by His blood.

Spend this season giving more good things to others instead of giving up things you know are bad for you all year long.

Stop smoking.

Stop drinking.

Stop gossiping.

Stop overeating.

Stop blaming yourself and others.

Start forgiving.

Start treating your body like you want it to be around for years and years to come.

Start thinking about how to make your life and other lives better.

Start reading the Bible and read about the greatest love story ever told.

Someone has died for you. He loves you so much, that He died for you before you were even born.

That’s what this season is about.

Spend the next forty days getting to know Him.

His life.

His love.

His forgiveness.

It’s a pretty amazing story.

Today I’ve got work. I’m exhausted from staying out late at a PTO meeting, and reading emails back and forth about chemo between Rob and my doctor. Even one email is hard to read. I still feel like I’m out of body and it’s not really my story. It’s someone else they are discussing on waiting on labwork and deciding doses of chemo and when it starts and going to the cancer center this week.

That’s not me they are taking about.

It’s some other lady.

I talked to a friend last night who had a mammogram and she was telling me how scared she was while the test was happening. She realized that’s my life every day.

I said that’s my life every second when I let it take over.

Someone else said I was quiet the last month whenever she saw me. January was a hard month. February has been too.

But spring is coming.

Last year I felt so much fear about my own diagnosis, as well as pain whenever I thought about Jesus. I came to know Him last year, and truly, deeply love Him.

As much as I love what He did, I feel like I have the pain of His mother in my heart. Mary had to watch her son suffer. The days leading up to Easter are somber and solemn.

I like the part when He surprises everyone and makes the greatest comeback ever.

The original comeback kid.

Today, may we all reflect on how to be better and think about our lives. And if you want to eat a pancake, don’t overdo it.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Unexpected Transformation Sunday

I went to church and sat next to Marguerite, and we all prayed for me for Thursday’s appointment, as well as for her 92nd birthday on Thursday. She has been a blessing and it is an honor to sit next to her each week.

I also learned about Transformation Sunday.

It was when Jesus went up on a mountain and appeared to some of His disciples with Moses and Elijah. I didn’t remember Elijah in the Bible, and vaguely remembered Moses as the guy with the Ten Commandments. I read up a little more, and wondered how the disciples knew it was these other two men who lived centuries before them when they appeared. It’s not like Moses took selfies with the stones and shared them on Snapchat.

I also wondered what they said to Jesus. “Maybe they said, The next few weeks will be hard, but it will be worth it. Trust us.”

That’s not answered in the Bible. But what was made clearer to me was that when God’s voice came down from the sky, he was saying to the disciples to follow only Jesus now.

You see, the disciples wanted to build a temple for all three men. It’s believed that Moses was the law, (the Ten Commandments), and Elijah was a prophet. Now, God was saying that those two men had done their jobs, and now?

Leave it all to Jesus.

He is the one.

The things you learn when you pay attention in church.

Transformation Sunday.

Jesus was transformed and His clothes were white and He was beautiful.

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

It’s also Valentine’s Day. A day of love.

Perfect.

Some people give up things for Lent.

Me?

I’m not giving up things, but instead…

I’m working on just giving things.

Giving more love.

Giving more forgiveness.

Giving more of my fear to God.

Giving more faith to myself and my children.

After church I went to The Giving Room with my friend Donna. When I walked in, I saw my friends Thud and Emily. She said she just knew she would see me there. Some may think I live there, but truly, I only make it there once every two to three weeks, but my heart always tries to carry the spirit of the Giving Room with me.

After we left, I delivered juices to some friends, then saw Morgan dance. She was so excited, and could not wait to perform for her family.

There, on the stage of the Living water church, my daughter transformed.

She danced to a song from Swan Lake.

She was covered in white light, and her clothes were all white.

On transformation Sunday.

How perfect.

The whole show was about love.

How perfect.

Today, may we all show more love, and forgiveness.

And may we all transform in our own ways during the coming Lenten season.

Make this time count.

Become better.

Kinder.

Healthier.

And when Easter comes, we are all better versions of ourselves than we are today.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Throwback…”And how are your Children?”

Here is a throwback post from one year ago. Thank you Facebook.

Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come…(and it took me five months instead of two years to hear NED…read on and see…)

This is a picture from that day.

One year ago today.

“And how are your children?”

For a girl who was told she is going to need a brain scan to check for metastasis, I’ve been doing pretty good.

Yesterday I only had one breakdown in the morning, when I spent an hour getting the kids ready to go outside, then called for my contacts and had to schedule another exam because it’s been too long to just reorder.

Another freaking appointment.

This was just after I had to schedule more bloodwork for Monday morning to check my CBC so the doctor can then order and overnight my chemo.

But I did the pity party cry for two minutes, dried off my eyes and then went to take a picture of my kid’s snowman.

“Has it been an hour mom?”

Yup. I told them they had to stay outside an hour because it took me an hour to get them all ready.

They gave me an extra twenty minutes so I could continue to dump and pack up my liquor cabinet.

More crying.

I got flowers, and a bracelet. I felt good.

Then… the phone call.

The social worker from Stonybrook called. I went over my story and thought I sounded brave and strong.

Told her I was going to make Stonybrook look amazing because I planned to only need them for two years max, as God was curing me, through prayer, friends, diet, reiki, reflexology, and magic potion. She is setting us up with financial aid and grants, as she said it will begin to add up quickly with the copays.

It was going great until she asked me the question that makes my heart hurt.

Every time.

“How are your children?”

I told her they know everything. Even the stage four conversation from two weeks ago. She mentioned that the 3 year survival rate on what I call “FU Google . Com” is wrong and scary for anyone to read, especially a 14 year girl. I can’t breathe when I talk to people about my kids. It hurts a lot to think about them and how scared they are, yet try hard to not show me. I think we are handling it ok.

We hung up and I dried off my face. I went back to where the kids were and maddie had on Greys Anatomy. You know, a great show for my future doctor. It was an episode where a woman’s mother just died and now she wants her ovaries and breast removed by elective surgery.

I kid you not.

I just said,”That’s not our story, Mad.”

Then turned off the tv and went to Target.

I used gift cards I’ve gotten from people to get them a little something each. Morgan mentioned we hadn’t been to Target in a long time.

It felt good to be normal again.

Quinn is sleeping in my bedroom again, that’s usually a sign he is scared. Morgan painted her nails over and over yesterday. Maddie asked me what my favorite one cell organism is, then explained why the one I chose is actually really cool. (For all of you wondering, a paramecium has some amazing water expelling function).

Today they have church class, a birthday party, then a sleepover at their cousin’s house.

To answer the question…

I think my kids are doing ok, under the sucky circumstance of their mom being diagnosed stage four out of the blue. I’m so glad God whispered in our ears to keep our Disney trips secret, so they didn’t have the added pain of two cancelled Disney vacations. My family has watched out for them non stop since this started, and have especially been great the past three difficult weeks.

Plus, in two more years, when I finally get the NED statement, we will finally go on a the biggest and best trip ever.

I am Khaleesi, and they are my 3 dragons.

The kids are alright.

They are loved, kind, and know God is with us all the time.

I am cured.

I am cured.

I am cured.

❤️❤️❤️🐲🐲🐲

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Xoxoxo

Keri

Salty Sisters

I bought a Groupon weeks ago for the Salt Cave on Main Street and just haven’t been able to make it. With the joint pain, rain, and feeling the cold coming on, plus a week coming up packed with activities, I figured yesterday was a good day to try it out.

I had mentioned to my sister I may go, and she said she would come with me.

As we grow older, we spend less time with our siblings. Whether it’s activities with our own children or where we live, our lives get so busy. I was glad she said she could make the appointment.

We walked in and a former student I had in first grade about seventeen years ago or so works there. It’s a small big town I live in.

I joked that the student will now become the teacher, and he led us into the room.

There were two women already in the beach chairs covered up with blankets, sitting very quiet. The lights were low and there was soft music.

We sat in the chairs and then it started.

Jill looked at me.

Then made a face.

Suddenly, we were three and six years old again, trying to sleep during nap time, but making faces at each other instead of going to sleep and trying not to snort laugh at each other.

She brought out a container of pepper.

“S-S-salt n pepper’s HERE and were in effect, working up a sweat!”

I had to go under my blanket and not look at her at one point.

Eventually, as it usually happens with children, we were able to sit quietly and I think I actually dozed off. When the time was up, one of the other ladies who had been sitting so quietly asked me…”Are you Keri?”

Yup.

She knew me from the Crossfit gym I used to go to at five in the morning. Have I mentioned I live in the biggest small town there is?

We talked a little and I was so glad I didn’t snort or laugh out loud.

They left the room and I quick laid down and made a salt angel. There are tons of benefits to salt therapy, and one hour in the cave is equal to one week at a beach. It’s good for blood pressure, inflammation, sinuses… so I made sure I got at least one good roll around in the salt. Even put my feet in the salt too for grounding, while not thinking about anyone else who may have put their feet in the salt too.

We left, and then ran to my dads house quick. We used to live in Valley Stream, and a neighbor brought his son to meet my dad. My dad was the “cool car guy” on the block when I was growing up, and this man’s son loves cars and just got his first car. It was great to see him and meet his son. I even threw change in his new car, and his dad said to never get rid of the change, because it’s coins from Keri. I have to admit, it felt nice to hear that. I laid my hand on his car and prayed over it when he was talking to my dad. Then I left.

I went to pick up Quinn from a friends house and spent some time talking with another mom. My son has some good friends, and their moms are just as great.

We decided to go to Cowfish to celebrate all the great things going on in our lives. Maddie made high honor roll again, which isn’t an easy feat with the AP classes and honor classes. She was also picked for some special Latin competition next month. Morgan has her big dance recital today, and Quinn got a 100 on a spelling test.

We always can find something to celebrate.

We played the parking lot game and got the best parking spot. We always get the best parking spot…

Quinn even got to open the special envelope we got months ago and we got 25% off of our bill. I spoke with our waitress who has become a friend. We’ve been discussing life and it is always so nice to see her. That’s what happens when you get to see people every so often often. You check in with each other, and see progress.

Progress is always good. When we look back at where we were all those yesterday’s ago…

Progress is good.

We went food shopping after then came home.

Another busy day.

Today we have church, then I’m heading to the Giving Room. We’ve got Morgan’s recital tonight, and I have a very busy week this week. I’ve had some rib pain, but saw my chaga friends Deb and Bridget yesterday and they helped me feel better about it. It’s probably a pulled muscle, and I’ve been running like a nut during chemo and flu season.

Hence the Giving Room trip today.

A girl needs her flu shot juices to make it through the hundredth day, Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, and an oncology appointment.

Today may we all be the salt of the earth, and sprinkle good words onto everyone we meet. May we find some time today to rest and prepare for the week, so that it can be a week full of love, peace, joy and healing.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

Throwback…”Dear God, Please and Thank You”

I’ve been down with a cold while living life. Here is last year’s post…

“Dear God, please and thank you”

While having a really rough week, I kind of stopped talking to God as much as I have been.

I was then reminded to put my faith in him on Wednesday.

I prayed.

I prayed to sleep well.

I prayed to find a way to see my doctor.

I prayed to find a way to not get sick from the abundance of sickness in my classroom.

I prayed for my doctor to feel my breast and say I’m the tumors were smaller.

I prayed to not feel so nauseous and headache and dizzy.

Guess what?

I’ve been sleeping.

My doctor called and got me in on Wednesday, after we had already called on Tuesday and were told no rescheduling would be possible.

We’ve gotten a blizzard from out of nowhere and I will not be in my classroom for four days.

My doctor felt my breast and noticed softness and shrinkage.

No headache, dizzyness, nausea yesterday.

People… listen.

Start talking to God.

Don’t just ask him for things, but thank him too.

If your glass is half full, thank God for your water and watch him fill it up…(with high PH balanced water too…)

I’m heading back into bed to until it’s time for my medicine and magic potion.

I’ll be thanking God for all of his blessings He has given me, and asking Him to fully take away the cancer.

Listen, if He can make the multiple miracles happen that just happened over the past two days… this cancer doesn’t stand a chance!

I am cured.

I am cured .

I am cured.

❤️🙏🏻👲🏻🍵💨🐲🦄💃🏼🐶👐🏻

My dog is also waiting for me in my bed for me to do more reiki on her. Ha!

In Jesus’s name, amen

Xoxo

Keri

(I love reading last year’s posts and knowing that the cancer was heading to complete remission, and I didnt even know it.)

Social Media is the Downfall of Our Society

Man, I could count on several hands how many times I heard or read that in the past two days.

I was involved in a conversation on social media with a lot of prominent local people regarding commenters on posts. It started the day of the super bowl. Everyone gets upset by the racist, “troll” comments that keyboard warriors type. It’s easy to write mean and nasty things and not have any consequences. Then? It stays there forever in cyberspace for people to go back on for centuries to come and see what kind of society we are right now.

If by chance you delete the thread, chances are someone has already taken screenshots and shared it 10,000 times anyway.

Nothing is sacred anymore.

Nothing is private.

(And yes, so ironic I’m writing this on social media… but stick with me here.)

Social media is also ruining our kids. They are never “off”. When they are in their houses, they still have 2,637 “followers”. Invisible people, some they would never even speak to in public, “following” them into their homes, sitting in their living rooms, eating dinner at their tables, and going into their bedrooms. Other kids may write mean things about them on other people’s pages, and it’s there forever for them to go back and look at, and take a tiny chip out of their heart each time they reread the mean things.

“Social media is the downfall of our society.”

And then there is me.

A piece of me ten thousand percent agrees with that statement. I’ve seen it up close and personal. I’ve seen statements written get misconstrued. I’ve seen bullying by other kids, and even worse, physical harm threatened by adults to kids and families.

But then there’s the other piece of me.

I had two decisions to make when I was diagnosed with the pesky stage four cancer thing where that silly little oncologist said there were only weeks or months left, maybe a year or two, because that teeny tiny little bone met was gonna get me.

One decision was to decide how to proceed. Go home, make goodbye videos, write up a bucket list, write letters for my kids to open on birthdays and graduations and weddings and births of grandchildren. Or go home and research and go find people who beat all the google and Debbie downer oncologist odds and be there to hold my grandchildren.

That choice was easy.

The second one wasn’t.

I had to decide if I should go public or stay private. It’s a small town, and I work where I live, and teach in the same school where my kids went and still attend. Word always gets out on the street, and the word gets twisted. So I went public so I could make sure all the information that went out was the truth, and make sure whatever people heard came from me.

Then something amazing happened.

Social media became the biggest prayer group ever for me.

The biggest support group.

Then I had total strangers sent to me for help. I still get requests every single day.

Do I accept them?

Then I had strangers ask me about Dr Snuffleuffugus. Do I send them and share him?

I did.

And in the past three days, three people have written on their social media walls about the cancer is stable, or they are NED (no evidence of disease).

Three people that I didn’t know a little over a year ago, who now have bright futures and long lives ahead of them.

And that’s just the past three days.

I’ve had people tell me they are losing weight, forgiving people, having babies, finding Jesus…

All because of social media.

How amazing is that?

Yes, social media can be ugly. Scary. Hurtful. Mean. People threatening to beat the crap out of total strangers and even children.

But it can also be used to save lives. Solve problems. Find Jesus.

Arrange for juices to be delivered so people can get healthy.

Yup.

I had the honor of arranging for over thirty juices to be delivered to Aquebogue. (It’s a wonderful school filled with wonderful humans, big and small.) Paula and her staff at the Giving Room packed coolers for people full of juices. People that have always wanted to go but it’s far away for some of them. My sister in law went and grabbed them for us and for her friends too.

I got some extra orders from social media.

Social media helps people get healthy too.

Today, may we all use social media to make this world better. Solve problems peacefully and with calm voices and hearts. Order some juices. May we all remember that we just celebrated two months ago the birth of a King, who showed us what forgiveness means.

Be kinder.

Speak nicely.

Drink a juice.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri