Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Ending of the #SharingStreak

The #sharingstreak was so much fun wasn't it? Over $690 was raised in 10 days! Incredible! Families lives will be changed forever! I am so blown away by the generosity and by the stories that were shared here.

it was incredible the amount of stories that came out in the news and on my Facebook feed during those ten days of incredible heartache, loss and joy through cancer, sickness, research and triumphs. My heart has been so tender to the ups and downs of others through this process. Wanting to hear and see what others are going through tends to make you more attentive! WHO KNEW?!

With that, on my sweet husband was chopping up some firewood in our front yard and ended up accidentally putting an axe (actually a mawl) into the top of his foot. We threw our kids at our neighbors, called a friend (Thanks AMY NOLL!) to come and grab them whenever she could and we went Urgent Care. Matt sliced through a part of a tendon and needed 12 stitches but it could have been soooo much worse (like losing a toe so much worse). We were thankful!

But his mobility was drastically reduced.  He was limited to the couch for a few days and he was in a pretty good amount of pain.

I realized that I am not the most patient caregiver in the world. I tried.
I really did.

Because I really wanted to be nice, thoughtful, caring, giving, LOVING.
But I got over it.

And I like help. I like not doing life on my own. And I like my husband doing the things that I hate doing.

And when he wasn't doing them, I got grumpy. And not so servant-like. And I was sorta annoyed that he put the axe in his foot. I was blaming him. FOR AN ACCIDENT! In case you are wondering, I am an awesome wife. Everyone should want to be married to me.


The reality of what it takes to go through life with a terminal illness hit me like a ton of bricks and I saw what a brat I was. So I tried again. And I failed again. I asked for forgiveness. And I tried again.

Then it hit me, this is really why people need a vacation from THEIR PROBLEMS (like Bob says in What About Bob). Because caregiving (even with Jesus by your side) is hard dang work.

Now Matt is up and about and totally fine and we are back to normal. It has taken all of 11 days out of our lives. That is nothing! I have a hard time imagining 9 months, 16 months, 3 years. The rest of your days together.

And I am so glad to get to run to give this time to these families. Thank you to all of my supporters who have donated and those of you who have read. I am nearly 1/2 way to my goal. Feel free to donate and help me get there! I won't make you share!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Day 10: #SharingStreak Trey Sloan and National Running Day!

Matt's cousin and John Mark's brother Trey Sloan made a donation to keep the streak alive yesterday but he wanted to keep the sharing to a minimum so to honor his wishes, I wanted to encourage all of you to go out and move your bodies for those you love today!

Stay healthy. Make good choices today. Fighting cancer and terminal illness first starts at home!

And to give you a good visual reminder of one of the reasons I am so excited to run the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25th, here is a video about the marathon:

Marine Corps Marathon "The People's Marathon" from PCI on Vimeo.

I am ALMOST 1/2 way to my fundraising goal. I have only $60 to go to reach $750. Will you donate and join in the #sharingstreak?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

End of Grade Testing

I just came back from proctoring at my children's school for the first day of End of Grade Testing.

This year is a breeze compared to the amped up atmosphere of the 3rd Grade Read to Achieve Testing we had to experience last year.

Still, Asher is understandably nervous since it is a measuring stick to see how he has progressed this year and today is the first of three days of testing.

Lucy wrote him this note to encourage him along:
The classic "Check your earwax" encouragement. Where would we be without little sisters?

I was lucky enough to proctor a class taking their exams and man, it made my heart go out to all these little guys. It in INTENSE in there. And yes, our school did a little music video to get everybody excited about the day. It was cute. All the words were rewritten to Megan Trainor's song, "All About That Bass" but the words were changed to "All About That Test-No Trouble"

Then I watched this video and wondered when the dancing monkey was coming! (sometimes John Oliver uses salty language. You've been warned)

I love our teachers and our kids. But this high stakes testing to penalize teachers or to "hold them accountable" is nonsense. They aren't given the resources they need to do anything more in the classroom. In fact--they are asked to do more with less than is acceptable. This isn't a Common Core issue, this is a common sense issue.

Three to four straight days of testing when it is absolutely beautiful outside and you expect 8-10 year old kids to be fired up? Nope. And then to carry it on for the next 7 years? Give me a break. We are exhausted already.

And I would say, I have a high achieving kid who has nothing to hold him back. We have no fear of these tests and no reason to be grumpy. It's just not necessary. His teachers can adequately look at his work and tell you exactly where he is without these tests.

You know why? Because they are smart, capable professionals who have been tested to death to get to where they are as educators.

It's amazing how that works.

Day 9: #Sharingstreak John Mark and Karin Sloan

John Mark and his wife Karin on Halloween this past year. Their children were the Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Very Beautiful Butterfly and they were the fruit the children had eaten through. I love creative costumes!

John Mark is my husband Matt's cousin and he and his wife have been long-time supporters of my running with Inheritance of Hope. They are doctors at Boston Medical Center and they sent a message to me through Facebook sharing their support for Inheritance of Hope and why John Mark is a specialist in Oncology.  
"Hi Leslie-

In college I would go to church each week and try to figure out which direction my life should take.  Every week, different members of the congregation would request prayers for their friends and relatives with cancer.   One day,  it occurred to me that God was using this to  literally tell me what to do with my life.     My work as an oncologist at a hospital that serves predominantly poor and vulnerable patients is the result of that calling.    My wife Karin works at the same hospital.   Cancer patients who are parents of young children have problems the rest of the world can’t even bear to imagine.    You are running for a good cause."
--John Mark Sloan

I'm so grateful for this message! It was such an encouragement to me in the middle of this running streak and attempt to raise money for families with terminal illness. 

We are once again at the end of the #sharingstreak! I'm always excited to see who will answer the call and decide to jump in to have their story known and shared. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dear 16-Year-Old Me

Watch it.
Share it.

Then keep watch over your skin and over the skin over those you love.

Day 8: #SharingStreak Michelle Bailey

Michelle Bailey's Father who served in the Air Force for 20 years. He is currently surviving with Leukemia. He has also had cancer in the prostate and melanoma. What a survivor!

Michelle Bailey is another neighborhood friend of mine. Her son and mine hang out together and we all get to play on fun snow days!

Michelle always posts inspirational items on Facebook that make you think and encourage you too look further into the world. I have come to find out that is because she has been profoundly impacted by cancer through the fight that her father has been through. A 20-year veteran in the Air Force, her father is currently surviving with Leukemia. He is also in remission from cancer of the prostate AND melanoma! SHEWWWEE.

Here is Michelle's story:

The person I am honoring is my dad, Rick Bailey. I am honoring him for his service in the Air Force for 20 years. He is also an inspiration and an example of pure strength. He was diagnosed with Prostate cancer first and then Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), then with Melanoma. Prostate was removed and given a clean bill of health. Then the CML, it is chronic, so it is a continuing illness. He is on a chemo pill where it has brought his blood levels back to normal! PTL! The melanoma was removed and again given a clean bill of health. He has shown nothing but strength through all of it. He is "living with leukemia" because you cannot say he is cured from this. My best friend Jessica has been a huge strength to me. Her mom died from cancer a few months before my dad was first diagnosed. I called her crying and she told me she'd give me five min to feel sorry for myself and then I had to suck it up and be strong for my dad! She was right in everything she said. And my God has been someone I can talk to, cry to, and ask why to. I know He will give me the guidance and strength I need to help my dad with what he needs. Psalm 138:3: "in the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul." I want others to find hope and strength in the knowledge that God is there, he is listening. He has a plan, and He will heal, either in the flesh or in the Heaven where there is no more pain. Don't be afraid to be afraid, everyone is allowed to. But show support and strength to your loved one who is in need of it. You are to be there for them, not them for you! My pump up song is "Oceans, Where my feet may fail", or "Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone."

I am so thankful to all of you!
I am now 1/3 of the way to my goal for the Marine Corps Marathon and the #sharingstreak is now in its second week!

I love hearing everyone's stories! It is so good to learn so much more about my friends and their hearts.
Let's keep it going! 

Click here to donate:
Inheritance of Hope

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Day 7: #Sharingstreak Lindsey Deitz

honoree of the day: Richard Dean Phillips 
Lindsey Deitz's Paternal Grandfather who was a WWII vet and died of mesothelioma.

Lindsey is a neighbor of mine and a very close friend. She has two girls my kids ages and we met one day when our kids were seeking new playmates. We found out that we had a mutual connection because of Young Life! Lindsey went to frontier Ranch when she was in high school with our regional director Lynn Barclay! It is so fun when you have it completely confirmed how small the world really is.

Why are you honoring him? Granddaddy was a quiet, sweet soul who genuinely loved his family. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone or raise his voice. He always had an open lap to hop up in and listen to "The Flying Sandbox" that he would read aloud. Whenever I think I can't play one more board game with my girls, I think of all the rounds of "Candyland" that Granddaddy endured with his grandkids. I always feel like I had a special bond with Granddaddy because I actually am the spitting image of what his mom looked like. I don't know why that makes me feel this way, but it does and it makes me feel like I am linked to a past long ago.

What has helped you through trying times? 
Always, through trying times I reach for my Bible to hear the promises made to us that were relevant then and just as relevant today in our situations. Also, sweet memories of my childhood always make trying adult circumstances seem less daunting. "I have made you; I will carry you; I will sustain you; and I will rescue you." Isaiah 46:4

Favorite quote: "My faith rests not upon what I am; or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done and in what He is now doing for me."  --Charles Spurgeon

Pump Up Songs-Lately I'm loving "Big Data", George Michael Pandora Station and Missy Elliot when I'm feeling sassy. 

My weirdest Pump Up Song is Lana Del Ray, "Will You Still Love Me When I'm No Longer Young and Beautiful?" (Can you tell I've hit mid-30's angst?) and lastly PM Dawn "Through Patient Eyes"... Seriously if you haven't heard this song from the early 90s Google it! If the songs are wrong I don't want to be right!

Just a reminder about what the #sharingstreak is all about: I am fundraising for families with terminal illnesss for the charity Inheritance of Hope for the Marine Corps Marathon. 

For time period between Memorial Day and 4th of July, I am running at least a mile a day. I am asking for donations to IOH and will share the stories of the donors on my blog. The stories can be stories of hope through cancer, loss, or of military service ideally. 

If you would like to make a donation, that can be done here-----> Inheritance of Hope. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Day 6: #SharingStreak Amy Noll

Amy Noll with her Grandpa Whitworth who fought with the Marines in Okinowa and earned the Purple Heart. Amy is also running with Inheritance of Hope in the Marine Corps Marathon! 
Many of you know my deep friendship with Amy Noll as documented through my blog and well--LIFE.

She is one of my closest friends and I can't imagine life without her. She, along with my other bestie Jenn ran that NYC Marathon last year with Inheritance of Hope. Amy has signed up AGAIN with IOH in the Marine Corps Marathon. She is ALSO fundraising but donated to ME. What a friend!

So here is her #sharingstreak story:

Who- My Opa,  Lloyd Whitworth.

Why-  He joined the Marine Corps when he was 17 and fought in World War 2. He received a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained during the Okinawa Campaign during WW2 while serving with the 6th Marine Division.
While he was technically my 'step-grandpa' I never knew the difference. He was a quiet man but was the hardest worker I have ever known. He also loved to hunt and was an excellent marksman. He passed away in January of this year at the age of 89 and there is definitely a hole in all of our hearts with the loss. My youngest brother, John, when he was in high school used to volunteer his weekends to participate in WW2 reenactments near our hometown in Texas in which Opa would go. It was a family affair. While Opa never talked much about when he was in the Marines, he certainly stood a little taller and walked a little prouder when he would go to the reenactments. 

Where I find peace through trying times- Definitely Jesus. His fingerprints are all over my life and I cannot deny how much he loves and cares for me. And also nature. Mountains in particular. All my cares and stress just melt away.

How- In my short 25 years my family has experienced several intense close losses and looking back we  have been cared for every step of the way. 

Quote-my favorite right now- I have two.."Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."     -Theodore Roosevelt  

'Nature desires us to hear and see the great story of God's love to which it points.' -Henri Nouwen

Pump up song- anything Pitbull. Most notably 'Don't Stop The Party.' Cause it's fun to run to.

Just a reminder about what the #sharingstreak is all about: I am fundraising for families with terminal illnesss for the charity Inheritance of Hope for the Marine Corps Marathon. 

For time period between Memorial Day and 4th of July, I am running at least a mile a day. I am asking for donations to IOH and will share the stories of the donors on my blog. The stories can be stories of hope through cancer, loss, or of military service ideally. 

If you would like to make a donation, that can be done here-----> Inheritance of Hope. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Day 5: #SharingStreak Amy Berry

Amy Berry's Grandfather Fred Cushing Jr. and her girls the last time they saw him alive. 

Amy Berry is a dear friend who works with me here in Asheville on the Young Life staff. We run hard in life together in Asheville since we have kids that are similar ages and we love to laugh at exactly the same things.

Amy's husband Phil is the director of Camp Ridgecrest for Boys where Asher has spent two weeks of the summer for the last three years AND HE LOVES IT LIKE WHOA. 

We love the Berry's and are so grateful for their friendship.

Late last year, Amy's grandfather and the patriarch of her family passed away and it affected her deeply. She is honoring him with a donation to Inheritance of Hope and with today's post. 

Who- My grandpa- Fred Cushing, Jr.

Why- He died in November at the age of 96 and was just an incredible man- great father, grandfather, great-grandfather, business man, World War 2 veteran, loving husband and super sharp to the end.  He was a lover of learning and reading and the outdoors.

Where I find peace through trying times- Jesus and my family have helped me through my hardest times; 

How- knowing that my Hope is in Jesus and his death on the Cross and life with me now

Quote- my favorite right now: “We spend most of our lives trying to make things happen for ourselves and for the people we love. But life is not reduced to what you give or know or achieve. Nor is it reduced to your mistakes, your failures, or your sin. Life isn’t even defined by whom you love. Rather, it is defined by the God who loves you. In other words, you are not the central character—not even of your own life’s story. This is not meant to demean you; it is meant to set you free.”  From Sacred Thirst by M. Craig Barnes

And this from the Bible- Job 26:14And these are but the outer fringe of his works;
how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?

Pump up song- phew....that's hard.  Really any Whitney Houston song like "One Moment in Time" or Mumford & Sons "Roll Away Your Stone" or "Let's Go" by Trick Daddy (that's pretty varied I'd say)

*I love that those are her pump up songs. That sounds just like me! 

This is the final donation so far! I am running every day and I would love to run and pray for you and your family. I would love to post and share tomorrow about someone in your life! MAKE A DONATION TODAY! 

If you are wondering what Inheritance of Hope is all about and what kind of impact it is making: Here is a blog post from a family that JUST came back from a retreat. Inheritance of Hope is all about leaving a legacy and changing lives. Creating hope and hope for the future. It is REAL! 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Day 4: #Sharingstreak Diane Hidey

(R) Diane (L) sister Janice

Diane Hidey was my mentor throughout college. In my junior and senior year, we would meet for breakfast weekly and read books together and talk about my life and how it was maybe falling apart and what direction it should take instead.

Diane has been SO GOOD to me over the years. In fact, 14 years ago--Diane was a bridesmaid in my wedding-even though she would have much rather read Scripture or something. She is just one of those people who puts on a dress and walks down the aisle of life with you just to let you know she stands by your side.

This is what she is doing with her sister Janice. Janice has stage 4 breast cancer. She is a teacher and an incredible woman of God who has influenced countless people for Christ. She is fighting for her life and she is loved deeply by Diane and her family.
Person you want to honor:  Janice Hidey

Why are you honoring her? She's the best sister, she's the primary care giver for my Mom and she's battling Stage 4 Breast cancer

Who has helped you the most to find strength through trying times? My strength first comes from God. He shelters me and hems me in behind and in front. So I turn to the Bible for words of comfort and my friends for a shoulder to cry on. I've also found that In hard times it helps to get the focus off of me and go do something that helps others. Volunteer, give your life away to others and the burdens we have get shared with many. 

Favorite quote: "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." 
--Jim Elliott

What is your pump up song? Born in the USA--Bruce Springsteen

Thanks Diane! 

I have only one more donor to go in the sharing streak right now!

I am looking for more. Do you have a story to tell? 
Click here to donate and I will be in touch to share your story! Keep the #sharingstreak alive!