story

Open the Blindfolds and Let the Sun Shine In

This is a short story of motherhood in which God answered one simple prayer for running buddies, gave me Haitian children and reunited four siblings separated by an ocean and a new last name.

 Andrew, Fabienne, Fabiola and Audree. Celebrating Fabiola's 17th Birthday, 2010. 

After years of having friends to run with in the hours before dawn, I found myself without company and desiring friends to hit the pavement with. So I prayed. My prayer went like this: "Lord, I know people are starving in many parts of The Earth. (sheepishly I continued my request.) In the big view, my request is shallow but if you are willing, would you send me some running friends? Oh, and if they were all Your followers, that would be great too, so we could pray together on our runs." (If I was asking for so much, why not just go for it?).

Six weeks later at a neighborhood garage sale, my prayer for running companionship was answered.  Amidst a pack of women (all runners), I met Cheryl, whose bold request would come a few weeks later, alter our lives and put Haiti on the map for us.

Fast forward several weeks, runs and conversations, I share about our interest in adoption and this is where the big door opens. One of the runners says, "You know, Cheryl and Scot are adopting two kids from Haiti and I think there are more siblings. You should talk to her." And so I did, the next time we ran.

Cheryl confirmed that they were adopting a set of twins from Haiti and the Haitian government would not allow them to have any more kids (the Haitians made five) and they had been praying that someone would want to adopt the older two. Might we be interested? Within the next 24 hours, my husband and I were intent to pursue the adoption of Fabiola and Fabienne, the two older siblings left in the orphanage.

Pat travels to Haiti in 2007 to ask permission of the nuns, if they would allow us to adopt.

The adoption process is long; mounds of paperwork, your life interrogated and nothing is in your control. It lasted far longer than any pregnancy, two years and nine months. October 19th, 2009 we brought home two Haitian sisters, reuniting them with their birth siblings, Audree and Andrew, adopted by Scot and Cheryl Catlin a few years prior. By American law, they belong to and are being raised by two separate families, but in our world, they are every bit the family God originally made them to be. The Ferricks and the Catlins…we are a bit like in-laws, uniquely knit together by an answered prayer.

2008 several family members travel with me to meet the girls

I have reason to celebrate Mother’s Day every day of my life and as my daughter Fabiola (now a junior in high school) says, “Mom, open the blindfolds and let the sun shine in.”

 

Family Thanksgiving 2012

From left to right, Fabiola, Fabienne, Me, Jessica and Pat in the back.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Girls, Not In My House

While the movie is truly hysterical to watch (Mean Girls 2004), the theme is all too real for girls today and yesterday for that matter.  We are always trying to remain fashionable, wear nothing larger than a size 5-6 and have the right friends.  It’s unfortunate, but the reality is that many girls, to make sure that they feel good about their situation, will find someone worse off than them and make sure they know it. My daughter is only 4 years old, but as I watch her play on the playground at the park I can already see the beginnings of cliques forming.  The adorable little boy with the glasses swings alone, the girl with un-brushed hair tries desperately to make it pretty with her little fingers and still none of the kids go near her.  It’s sad to watch them draw these lines for themselves at such a young age but it’s worse when their parents do it for them.

Several months ago during a Mommy’s night out, a friend shared a story of how another parent had rudely snapped at her in the school parking lot.  After hearing the story I was appalled.  What gave this woman the right to snap at my friend for a reason that was none of her business?  I wanted so badly to never speak to her during pickup or let my daughter anywhere near her child again.

The next couple of times I saw her I found myself being short and abrupt, and then I realized what I was doing.  I was behaving like a child!  “You’re mean to my friend so I’m going to be mean to you”… what kind of example was I setting?  It wasn’t until a birthday party several weeks later that I found out her mother had been battling the final stages of breast cancer while she was working over seas for extended periods of time.  In fact, her mother had passed away only 2 days before.  I pray I never find out how I would behave if faced with a similar situation.

We all do the best we can for our children and for now I refuse to let my 4-year choose all of her friends.  My mother used to tell me “I can see farther than you,” and she was right.  When she’s older, I hope that her exposure to people of different colors, sizes, religions and economic backgrounds will give her the wisdom to surround herself with diverse friends.  The last thing I want to raise is a Mean Girl.

Make A Wish

  "What would you want to tell other people who had cancer?", I asked my youngest sister this week..."Hmmm, I would tell them my story and to be brave." So, here it is!

I'll never forget the phone call from my parents New Year's Eve, 2009 telling me the little 7 year old ballerina with sandy blond waves and big brown eyes had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Whilms Tumor Cancer that  had spread to her kidney, abdomen, and lungs. It just didn't fit and it certainly wasn't fair.

(feeding the ducks)

They lived in Portland, OR and I lived in Austin, TX but the night I got that phone call my husband said, "just go!". So the next day I was on a plane. Jolene quickly started her treatment with chemo, radiation, and surgeries to try to romove the largest tumors. She's got some pretty amazing battle scars! 

 

(walking with the physical therapist post-surgery)

"Having mom and dad and family nearby", is what helped when she was feeling crummy from the medication. Also, weekly visits from the "Thursday hospital cat", having a funny Dr. like Dr. Todd, laughing a lot, watching other people get their heads shaved, and painting fingernails also helped :).

(Joanna, Joel, Jolene, and Mom at the Tulip Gardens)

(Jolene and Joanna - sisters and bff's)

(Thursday cat at the hospital)

(Jolene and Dad, after he shaved his head for St. Baldrick's Day!)

(Jolene and me...making Chicken and Dumplings)

With eight brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, in-laws, cousins, aunts - uncles, and countless friends there was no shortage of prayers and support during treatment! Jolene received so many sweet cards and gifts just letting her (and the whole  family) know she was loved and not alone. One very special gift was a visit from Make A Wish Foundation!

(Learning she was selected for Make A Wish)

After tossing around a few ideas she decided on a trip to Austin, TX so the whole family could be together and go to Six Flags and Sea World! We made some incredible memories on that trip!

 

(The Clan at Six Flags :)

(Sea World)

It's been almost two years now since Jolene was diagnosed and I know my parents would say, "God is faithful!". The last several scans have come back clear and Jolene is doing great! She's back in ballet, her curls are growing back, cooking a ton, quoting "Julie and Julia", and dreaming about becoming a Scientist and traveling to Japan :).

This is her story. Be brave.

(Recital - Jolene is 2nd from the left...cute!)

(Curly day)

Paying it Forward

This is Just a Season” was read by over 2,000 viewers on CREATED WOMAN this past year.  It was the story of forty-year-old Jenny Stark from Orange, Texas, and her journey with breast cancer.  Jenny’s courage to embrace breast cancer,  her desire to help others traveling down the same road, and her faith was truly a class act. Knowing that Jenny was going to have reconstructive surgery within a few months after that story, I wanted to do a follow-up article on her.  Discussing this with her, she told me that her surgery, called a TRAM-FLAP, was scheduled for October 10, 2011.  I suggested that we wait until after the surgery to let viewers know how she was doing.

Immediately, she replied:  “No, I don’t want this article to be about me and my surgery.”  “I want it to be about  Paying it Forward.”  “Paying it forward?”  I asked.  “Yes!”  “The knowledge I have learned through my own trials, equipped me in helping someone else through theirs.”  “It’s like passing the baton,” Jenny explained.

And so it was- - - this is where I picked up on Jenny’s story from last year of how Jenny went about Paying it Forward to a friend and former co-worker at the bank where Jenny had once been employed.

Like most women when they first hear the news from their local doctor that they have cancer, Jenny’s friend was shocked and afraid to proceed to the next step.  The next step called for her traveling two hours away from her home in Orange to M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas, for more tests.  “I will go with you,” Jenny told her friend.

When she received word from her doctor that she would need Chemotherapy, Jenny went with her on her first treatment.  When she was given a Saturday appointment for a CT scan, Jenny volunteered to drive her.  When it came time to get the results of that test, her friend was too scared to receive the news herself over the phone.  Jenny placed the call with her to get the results one way or the other, so she wouldn’t have to wait the entire weekend with no results.

Jenny went so far as to fill in for her friend at the bank on a part time basis in her absence.  She wanted to relieve her of the worries or concerns that she may have, so she could totally focus on getting better.

Jenny emphasized the importance of making yourself available for the FIRST OF EVERYTHING to the one who has been diagnosed with cancer.”  “It’s not so much that you have to attach yourself permanently to that person,” Jenny explained.  “It’s a matter of being willing to be a servant, to be there for that person, whether it’s driving them to their  appointments, or just answering their questions.”  “In short, make yourself available to do everything that is in your power for them in their time of need.”

Jenny also introduced her friend to the  “Do and Don’t list when faced with cancer, as she had detailed in This is Just a Season. (linked above) Jenny very emphatically reiterates two that she feels strongly about:

1.  Don’t get on the internet when your doctor confirms that you have cancer.  Everyone’s breast cancer is unique; what you find on the internet may not apply to you.  Besides, it only creates anxiety to find information that might not even apply to your situation. Let your doctor explain to you the steps to be followed according to your specific situation. He will also keep you at the point where you need to be in at the present time.

2.  Do ask God for direction in choosing the right hospital, and follow the doctor’s orders in charge“You see, it works like this,” Jenny explained.  “There is a big difference when faced with making crucial decisions based on our emotions rather than on praying and asking God for directions.”  “As we receive directions from God, He will guide us to the right hospital, as well as the right doctors whom he has given wisdom and skill.”  “God, the hospital, and the doctor work as a team in restoring your health.”

As Jenny and I talked on in general about the storms of life that come to all of us at times, I marveled at her insight and wisdom of how to walk through those storms and not become a victim to them.   “Wow, you are so wise!” I exclaimed.  She laughed and then gave me an illustration, using her hands in a lowered position, then in an upward position.

 “You are never down; you are either up or getting up.”  If you are getting up, you are moving in an upward position.  Picture yourself moving in the direction toward God.  If you are down, you are not moving at all, so always be leaning towards Him or on Him.”

We glanced at our watches and two hours had passed since our conversation had begun.  I could have lingered in her presence another two hours gleaning wisdom from her. We  prayed together for her upcoming reconstructive surgery, and as we were saying our goodbyes, Jenny remarked:  “I had no idea what I was going to say when I met with you today.”  “I had no notes; I just knew I wanted to talk about my friend, and my journey with her this past year.”

My thought was:  Jenny didn’t need any notes.  Her heartfelt message poured out from within of her desire and hope that she had helped her friend.

I personally believe that God is smiling down on Jenny saying:

“You have answered The Discipleship Call.  You have BELIEVED, LIVED, LOVED, MINISTERED, and LEAD your friend through her journey with cancer this past year.”

Well Done!”  “I am pleased with my servant, Jenny.”

“You Paid it Forward!”

Sit Awhile

Life's challenges are bearable,even easy when we're not alone. I could be stranded on a desert island or on the freeway without a spare tire and I still have someone to depend on. Sometimes I just have to remind myself to "sit awhile." …..It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses' hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Joshua defeated Amalek and its army in battle. Exodus 17:9-11

Often when we are in need of a miracle the circumstances can be overwhelming. When what our eyes see and the heart knows are at odds with each other it can quickly bring the mighty to exhaustion.

Our family was at this point when my younger sister had been in ICU for nine days. Then one of my beautiful mentors was praying over me for my family’s strength she reminded me of this story. Rereading it I was surprised when I saw that Moses was placed on a rock. I had not remembered this key element of the story and I love the imagery throughout Moses' life with “the rock”. He couldn't seem to get away from it. Then, there's the parallel that Jesus is our rock.

 

Moses does not even have the strength to stand. The image of Aaron and Hur bringing this rock to seat him on and propping his arms up for him till victory comes is not really the image of a mighty contender but rather a team that know God is on their side and it going to take a team effort to get to victory. Leaving no doubt it is God’s victory.

 

In the biggest battles of our lives when we are worn out and feel done we can be seated on our “rock” Jesus. The rock of our salvation! Our cornerstone! God is not afraid of our exhaustion. In fact He is aware of it and encourages us throughout scripture to place ourselves in relationship for this very reason.

 

Miracles come in different ways and at times they have to be contended for. Some fights are long and exhausting and more than we can do alone. So if its seated or standing let us be sure He is our support. Also let us allow those in our lives to hold us up when needed.

 

Our miracle came after 11 days in ICU she woke up and has defied all the odds.Yeah  God!!

 

Is it easy or difficult for you to accept help during crisis?

 

Lord, thank you for always being there. Your love never fails and you never leave us. Help us  find our strength and courage in you when we need it and to be encouragers when others  need it. Amen

 

 

 

Fashionably Single

Singleness comes with so much welcomed freedom!  Freedom to go where you want; freedom to hang out with who you choose; freedom to sleep in; freedom to date; freedom to shop!  That was one of my favorites!  I could shop and not have to answer to anyone!  Being single, fashionable and carefree is a great life and to be enjoyed to the fullest.  Just flick on the TV and take a look at all fashionable single ladies wearing all the best labels so fabulously and you’ll see that life is good for a single lady.  I mean, don’t they seem to have it all?  The clothes, the men, the careers, the best friends and somehow they seem to balance life so well!  You have girls like Carrie on Sex and the City to our current go to fashion girls on Gossip Girl or Real Housewives. I can get wrapped up in the characters I must admit as a way of ‘relaxing’ at the end of the day just to clear my brain of the ever-pressing to-do lists.  It’s so easy to think if we act, dress or become like “so and so” then I’ll have those men, their career and that status.  The truth is, everything we do does in fact dictate what we get, but the outcome is not at all like what we see on TV.  If you really did walk out the door in a see-through shirt with coordinating bra underneath or cute runway dress that really fits like a shirt, the good – looking business man with the good intentions isn’t the one that’s going to ask you for a cup of coffee!

If you don’t already know it, you have a lot of power over the men around you through the way you dress.  What are you using it for?  Are you using it to try and get something or are you making sure your protecting someone’s future husband and your own dignity at the same time?  The clothes you wear, even fashionable ones, may not be the best choice in proving you’re a lady and hopefully, your goal is to be a lady and one who is pursued vs. just a one night conquer!

Men by nature have engrained in them the need to hunt; to conquer.  That’s why they talk about the winning team they bet on, the game they played and conquered, the hunt of a fish or deer they waiting on for hours on end until finally after a long day, they conquered.   Men are conquerors and in this day and age, our need to be equal in every single area including conquering the dating game has taking the hunt out for men as we pursue them ourselves.  Most importantly, the challenge has seemed to be non-existent when we let ourselves be on complete display by the way of our clothing!  We can take away the mystery of ourselves by putting too much of ourselves on display.

Clothes tell a story, they say who we are and what we think about ourselves.  We become walking art for all to view.  What story do you want to tell about yourself?  I encourage you this fall as you go out shopping for the latest trends and coolest fashions, think about what story you want to tell about yourself!  Choose clothes that display who you were created to be both inside and out!  Simply said, be fashionably single.

 Win a free book, "Now, While You are Single" by re-tweeting our tweet of this article.

Maximize Your Fitness

We all know that exercise is important to overall health and wellbeing, no doubt.  We know this.  Trying to fit it into our daily lives is a whole other story. Life is busy. Life is full. There are so many things that need to get done in a day. Whether you are a dedicated work out stud machine or a couch potato, the following information will help you be the most efficient and effective in starting a work out program or tweaking the one you have to ensure you get the most out of the time you put in. It all comes down to timing. The latest research shows that the beneficial effect of exercise lasts between 48 and 72 hours, including the positive effects on insulin, glucagon, and cortisol. So, you need to space your workouts accordingly. If you work out only twice a week, then put 72 hours in between, and work out Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/ Friday. The best way to get the continual benefit in your body is to work out at least 3 times per week, spacing it out like Monday, Wednesday Friday. If you work out more than 3 times per week, then alternate and do cardio every 48 hours, and then add resistance training on the other days.

Why is this so good? Working out helps every system to function more efficiently: our vascular system (heart and blood), brain and nervous system, joints and muscles, as well as our hormones and neurotransmitters. The latest research has shown the impact of exercise on insulin receptors. It makes them more sensitive, or receptive. You want that. I want that. Because when the receptors become resistant Type 2 Diabetes has either arrived, or is right around the corner.

For those who are in a rut and not working out, even just adding a brisk walk for 10 minutes per day has show to have positive benefits. Then just be sure to do that every Monday Thursday and you will have done wonders for your body. Then you can slowly increase it to 20 minutes, then 30 minutes on Monday Thursday, and just see how good you feel.

If you are having a hard time getting started, visit my website www.drsheffield@me.com and send me a message with your contact information and I will send you information that will help you be accountable and get you moving in the right direction. If you have any pain with walking, contact your doctor to have it figured out.

I Can Handle It

I can handle it and figure it all out on my own. If I mess up, I do not need anyone to help me.  I am strong enough and capable to turn it around and make it right.  I know the exact time when things need to be done according to the clock, day, week, month and even year. That WAS the story of my life. My need to be morally perfect and in control caused me internal frustration, hopelessness and missed opportunities for deeper relationships. 

 All of my life, I have had a desire to do the right thing. I prided myself in “keeping it together”.  However, when I could not keep it together and failed in certain areas of my life, I was too embarrassed and shameful to ask for help.  I KNEW if I tried really hard I COULD do it without the help of anyone, including giving it to God.  After all, I needed to TRY and please Him.  This struggle left me feeling like a failure more than once.  It was only when I realized I was powerless by myself and took the courage to ask for help, I became secure in who I was as a woman and more confident with myself than trying to do it alone.

 After many years of infertility, multiple miscarriages and trying to “fix” things in my marriage on my own, I had to realize there are things in my life I can not control.  I had to be willing to submit those things to God and give up my fears, my timelines and plans of how I think it should be done.  For someone who prided herself on being organized, on time and prepared for any situation, the lack of control in certain areas of my life left me feeling hopeless. The internal battle of not being able to figure it out on my own was exhausting.

 What a happy day when I really understood what is now my life’s scripture

Philippians 1:6

For He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.

What a relief. I am not expected to have it ALL together. God knows we are going to fail, so why shouldn’t we expect it of our self.

As a Fitness and Wellness coach, My purpose in life is to work with women who want to overcome the helpless feeling of not knowing how to maintain their weight and consistency in their fitness.

I understand the feelings of having control and discipline in so many areas of life, yet struggling internally in one area that is so important to a woman.

My heart is to empower women to feel confident in their choices with food and exercise and not allow this one area to dominate her thoughts.

I am passionate about helping women to overcome their fear of failure and to feel secure in all areas of their life by establishing a healthy lifestyle, no matter how BUSY life gets.

What One Person Can Do for Jesus

Easter Sunday - - -the day we celebrate The Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In the week prior to Easter each year, by way of the scriptures, I visit the sites of  “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”  I enter The Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was betrayed.  I stroll down the Via Dolorosa path trying to visualize the sights and sounds of that horrendous day.  Moving past the city gates of Jerusalem, I make my way to Golgotha, where He died on the cross.  Ending my visit at the tomb, I leave rejoicing that He is not there.

During my visit this year, not only was my heart filled with gratitude for what Jesus did for me, but it was also stirred with an awareness of what common ordinary people were doing for Jesus.  I invite you to pay a visit to these people with me, and let’s examine our own lives to see what one person can do for Jesus.

1.  Mark 14:1-9 - - One Woman Did What She Could - A certain woman heard that Jesus would soon die and wanted to prepare his body for burial.  While He was eating at the home of Simeon, the Leper, she came into the house with an alabaster jar of  expensive perfume and poured it over his head.  The people rebuked her harshly for not selling the perfume and giving the money to the poor.  But Jesus said:  “Let her alone. She has done what she could.  She has done a beautiful thing for me.  The poor you will always have with you and you can help them any time; but I  won’t be here much longer.When we do what we can do with the abilities we have, or give of those things we treasure the most, we are doing a beautiful thing for Jesus.

2. Mark 15:17-21 - - One Man Carried The Cross - Jesus was sentenced to die and began his journey to the site of the crucifixion. The Romans recognized that Jesus had grown weak and ready to faint under the load of the cross and feared he would die before he got to the site.  So, they drafted Simon of Cyrene, a visitor to the city, to carry the cross for Jesus. When we help carry the burden of someone who has grown tired and weary,  we are doing a beautiful thing for Jesus.

3.  Mark 15:42 - - One Man Risked Persecution - After the crucifixion had taken place, Joseph of Arimathea, went in boldly to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus for burial. He did this knowing he could incur displeasure, reproach, and persecution of the Jews. He was not ashamed of being associated with Jesus nor afraid to appear in his behalf. When we are willing to risk the persecution of others to be obedient to His call on our lives, we are doing a beautiful thing for Jesus.

4.  Mark 16:  9-13--One Woman Told the Story of His Resurrection - Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, a woman whom he had cast out seven devils, came to the tomb.  Not finding him there, they fled trembling and bewildered. Soon, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.  Running to his weeping disciples, Mary shouted, “HE’S ALIVE!”   Bible commentaries say it is possible that Jesus made His first appearance to this woman to show us as an example of his abounding grace. When we catch a glimpse of grace, God’s unmerited favor, we will do a beautiful thing for Jesus by sharing the gospel with everyone we meet.

(5)  Luke 23:39 - - One Man Accepted Jesus as his Savior - As Jesus hung between two criminals on the cross, the conversation went like this: First thief:    “So, you are the Messiah, are you?”  “Prove it by saving yourself and us, too!” Second thief:  “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus said:  “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” When we accept Jesus as our Savior, not only are we doing it for our eternal life, but we are doing it for him so that His suffering will not be in vain.

Conclude:  When we think of the Easter story, may our hearts cherish what Jesus did for us.  But, when we think of  ordinary people like you and me, may we be reminded of what one person can do for Jesus.  Could it be that what we do for Jesus will also be written down as a memorial to us like these people?  Oh, I long to hear Him say:  “Well, done, my good and faithful servant.”