I feel as if I’m finally able to do just that.  
The last three weeks have been so busy with big, super fun events for our family that have been none short of amazing.
But, I’m somewhat excited about a week with NOTHING on my calendar, except for standardized testing with 25 sweet students at school.    

So take a minute and compare yourself to a tree.  A recent devotion that I read described a tree that was dying, and compared it to our busy lives.  We all know that trees need water, sunlight, carbon dioxide, and nutrients from the soil to live.  And much of the time, flowers are planted at the base, causing the tree to not be able to breathe.  An arborist came out to see a tree once that was dying and as soon as some of the dirt was cleaned away from the base, the tree began to flourish.  We are so much like them, planning activities around us that cause us to become exhausted and lack energy.  So as this week is beginning, I’m trying to rest and do what God wants me to do, not just survive,  but thrive and truly take the time to breathe.  
So as I said, this month has been extra busy with many amazing events.  This past weekend was one that I was so looking forward to as it would be a little down time in my favorite place on Earth.  Although my iWatch said that I walked 12,000 plus steps on Saturday, I was able to breathe in the nice crisp air in Clemson for the homecoming game.  

This was also the breast cancer game for the year and so since I was in the middle of chemo, not feeling well, and it poured rain last year when I was team captain for Bon Secours St. Francis, I was ecstatic that this year I was able to participate in some events, thanks to my friends at the cancer center.  We proudly watched Kathleen Swinney and Becky Steele share information about Dabo’s All In Foundation on the Tiger Tailgate show, and how they are helping fund a new mammography bus.  

We also were able to eat lunch with Mrs. Pearlie Harris, herself, and see one of my favorite former players, CJ Spillers.  

Tailgating with lots of friends, the tiger walk, and then the game, made the day complete.  

The band serenaded us with TIGER RAG just before leaving and sharing a special moment with the band director as his wife is battling breast cancer, allowed the day to be near perfect. 

Earlier in the week, I participated again in the Pumps and Pearls fashion show.    This event is awesome and I feel so honored to have been asked to be a part of it again this year.  Jett escorted me, wearing his full cowboy “get up”, and we had the opportunity to walk the winner of the “Pups and Pearls” dog contest, Honeysuckle.

 She was so gentle and both, her and Jett, did great, as they walked by my side down the runway with 1,200 precious women cheering for each model.  

My precious doctor, Rebecca Keith was the keynote speaker, and did a wonderful job comparing cancer to a mountain lion.  I’ve included the story that she shared below.  I laugh and cry each time I read it, as it’s SO true!

"What’s it like to go through cancer treatment? It’s something like this: one day, you’re minding your own business, you open the fridge to get some breakfast, and OH THERE’S A MOUNTAIN LION IN YOUR FRIDGE.

So you take off running, and the mountain lion is right behind you. You know the only thing that can kill a mountain lion is a bear, and the only bear is on top of the mountain, so you better find that bear. You start running up the mountain in hopes of finding the bear. Your friends desperately want to help, but they are powerless against mountain lions, as mountain lions are killing machines. But they really want to help, so they’re cheering you on and bringing you paper cups of water and orange slices as you run up the mountain and yelling at the mountain lion - “GET LOST, MOUNTAIN LION, NO ONE LIKES YOU” - and you really appreciate the support, but the mountain lion is still coming.
Also, for some reason, there’s someone in the crowd who’s yelling “that’s not really a mountain lion, it’s a puma” and another person yelling “I read that mountain lions are allergic to kale, have you tried rubbing kale on it?”
As you’re running up the mountain, you see other people fleeing their own mountain lions. Some of the mountain lions seem comparatively wimpy - they’re half grown and only have three legs or whatever, and you think to yourself - why couldn’t I have gotten one of those mountain lions? But then you look over at the people who are fleeing mountain lions the size of a monster truck with huge prehistoric saber fangs, and you feel like an idiot for even thinking that - and besides, who in their right mind would want to fight a mountain lion, even a three-legged one?
Finally, the person closest to you, whose job it is to take care of you - maybe a parent or sibling or best friend or, in my case, my husband - comes barging out of the woods and jumps on the mountain lion, whaling on it and screaming “MOUNTAIN LION, STOP TRYING TO EAT MY WIFE,” and the mountain lion punches your husband right in the face. Now your husband (or whatever) is rolling around on the ground clutching his nose, and he’s bought you some time, but you still need to get to the top of the mountain. 
Eventually you reach the top, finally, and the bear is there. Waiting. For both of you. You rush right up to the bear, and the bear rushes the mountain lion, but the bear has to go through you to get to the mountain lion, and in doing so, the bear TOTALLY KICKS YOUR BUTT,  but not before it also punches your husband in the face. And your husband is now staggering around with a black eye and bloody nose, and saying “can I get some help, I’ve been punched in the face by two apex predators and I think my nose is broken,” and all you can say is “I’M KIND OF BUSY IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED I’M FIGHTING A MOUNTAIN LION.”
Then, IF YOU ARE LUCKY, the bear leaps on the mountain lion and they are locked in epic battle until finally the two of them roll off a cliff edge together, and the mountain lion is dead.
Maybe. You’re not sure - it fell off the cliff, but mountain lions are crafty. It could come back at any moment.
And all your friends come running up to you and say “that was amazing! You’re so brave, we’re so proud of you! You didn’t die! That must be a huge relief!”
Meanwhile, you blew out both your knees, you’re having an asthma attack, you twisted your ankle, and also you have been mauled by a bear. And everyone says “boy, you must be excited to walk down the mountain!” And all you can think as you stagger to your feet is , I never wanted to climb this mountain in the first place.” Author Unknown

This past year has been a climb like no other but I’m so thankful for all of my “bears”…my husband, my family, my doctors, my friends, and our precious Lord.  Without them, the climb would’ve been much, much harder and I’m not sure that I’d be standing here today, strong and healthy, if that mountain lion had of had his way with me.  I sure didn’t want to climb the “cancer” mountain in the first place but it brought me so much closer to God and that, I’m grateful for.
Last weekend I went and saw Lysa TerKeurst’s 
“The Word Alive”  tour with my mom and mother-in-love in Athens.  

It was UNBELIEVABLE.  Lysa has such a passion for leading women in the adventure of faith.  Her story is powerful and we all left there feeling closer to Him, after experiencing a deeper connection to His word with so much more understanding.   It was truly a time where I was able to recharge my soul and spirit, and spend time with two women I adore.  

So now…to rest.  I’m already excited about going to bed by 8 every night this week and having several “low key” upcoming weekends to breathe and well maybe have a little “Swanky Steer” time.  

So I’m going to challenge you to do these things…
Take time to recharge.
Do something that refreshes your soul. 
Lean in to the presence of God. 
And simply stop, and breathe. 

Life is short and I don’t want you to miss the blessings.  
“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Exodus 33:14


Give Cancer the BOOT!

In June of this current year, I decided that I wanted to start some type of fundraiser to help bring awareness and raise money to help find a cure for breast cancer.  I prayed about this and continued to ask for guidance, as I also felt God was leading me down a path towards ministering to others dealing with cancer.  After meeting a friend for dinner one night, she told me that she had been praying for me and felt that the Lord was pulling me in that direction as well and for me to seriously be in prayer about this.  I prayed a lot, talked to my parents, Jeremy, and friends about the possibilities and just knew that I wanted to do something in October for sure, for breast cancer month.  Little did I know that “Give Cancer the Boot” would be such a successful event, and the beginning to an annual fundraiser.  

The planning began this past summer as I discussed the event with our ladies’ program leader at our church.   She was super excited about this idea and when I shared my vision to our Common Threads group of women at FIFBC, they couldn’t have been more supportive and eager to help.  Every single stage of the planning process went so smoothly.  From the catering, the musicians, the speakers, the silent auction donations, and more…God’s hand was in it ALL the way.  When working on the program I decided to include an arrow on the front.  When I shared the program with some ladies from my church, one sent the kindest message.   She mentioned how in order to launch an arrow, you must first pull it backward. A diagnosis of cancer can feel like a person is certainly being pulled in the WRONG direction. But with excellent medical care and a wonderful support team, a person, especially a Christian, can be launched in a direction that they never expected. When we make a determined effort to find a way to draw closer to Jesus, even cancer can "get the boot”.  These words meant so much to me and helped direct my focus even more on Him.   My friends and family went above and beyond to help make the fellowship hall look amazing, setting the most beautiful tables with fresh flowers and prayer boxes made by the children at our church.  Prayer cards were hand written for each attendee and the room was prayed over more than once.  When I laid my head down on Wednesday night after working at the church each afternoon, I was able to rest easy, knowing that everything was ready and it would be one to remember.  And on the night of the event, His presence was there.  It was all consuming. My oncologist spoke and shared the greatest message and sang the most beautiful song.  We never discussed what song he’d sing but I knew he’d pick the perfect one.  And he did.  The song “Somebody’s praying for me” was a song that the congregation sang at Fountain Inn First Baptist for years when I first started going after Jeremy and I got married.  Each Sunday I would cry my eyeballs out as it would touch me so.  After having a hard time getting pregnant, this song stirred many emotions as the lyrics say…

“Somebody’s praying,
I can feel it.  
Somebody’s praying for me.
Mighty hands are guiding me 
And protect from what I can’t see…
Lord, I believe, Lord I believe….
Somebody’s praying for me.”
And to know that people from coast to coast were praying for me during my battle with cancer made it that more special that this was his song choice.  
I worked for months writing my testimony and wasn’t one bit nervous to share.  My emotions did get the best of me throughout my time on stage, and my nose ran like a faucet, but God gave me the confidence to stand tall, and praise HIM as I did throughout each step of my journey.  I referenced the story of David and Goliath and how David never thought about his size in comparison to how big Goliath was.  David only thought about how big God was.  And that’s why he was confident and could say in 1 Samuel 17:46  “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down.”  I fought the giant, turning all fear over to God, knowing He would hold me as I faced the unknown over the past year.  And just to prove God’s perfect timing, my devotion for last Thursday in Christine Caine’s book Unshakeable, was about defeating giants and “what ifs”.  I think back on how many times I thought “what if cancer had not have come into my life?”.  I had to change that fear that I had to faith, being confident and trusting in Him more than in my insecurities.  And I had to do that on Thursday night as well, trust that the benefit would be a success and that many would hear how wonderful Jesus is, as He loves us all so much.
Holding Jett during the music portion of the event was super sweet, as he twirled the curls that I’m so glad to now have.  He was the only child there and told me later that he had so much fun at “my party”.  

That precious boy is my why.  He makes living sweet.  And his daddy, my husband, smiled the whole night, hugging many of our friends and family that supported us like no other over the past year.

Having many employees from the cancer center in attendance, from the foundation director, nurses, financial consultants, to Mrs. Pearlie Harris, herself, made the event complete.  Every single person that I’ve had the pleasure of working with throughout Bon Secours St. Francis Health System has been amazing.  

Their love for their job is evident, as well as their love for Christ.  My family is ever so grateful for my team of doctors, nurses, and staff that have helped to save my life.  
A very special award was given at the end of the night to my breast health navigator, Becky Steele.  

I’ll never forget the day I was diagnosed, this precious lady prayed over Jeremy and I, comforting us during this devastating time.  She has the job of telling people on a daily basis that they have breast cancer.  I cannot imagine how hard her job must be, day in and day out.  I will forever be grateful to her as she helped schedule many doctor’s appointments, checked on me regularly, and truly loved on my family and friends during this time.  She was so surprised and I hope she realizes how special she is to so many women.  The help and donations that so many people poured into this event still has me in awe.  As I looked out at our fellowship hall of over 215 people, and then found out that over $6500 was collected that night to be given to The Pearlie Harris Breast Health Center, I could hardly catch my breath to say the closing remarks.  

To think back to just 15 months ago, when I was pricked by a big ole cactus that tried to take my life, to now.  That season is over, and a new one is beginning. I couldn’t wait to feel whole again and be able to continue on with my normal life.  Habakkuk 2:3 says “The revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”  God opened my eyes and allowed me to prepare for this next season of life.  It has been filled with dreams and a God-given purpose.   It’s time to live that out and I couldn’t be more excited.

Thanks to all who came and donated to the Pearlie Harris Breast Health Center.  Much love!  

So save the date for next year…Thursday, October 3, 2019.  We’ll continue to raise money to GIVE CANCER THE BOOT!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

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