Sunday, September 9, 2012


Seventy Three  9/9/12

Today is September 9. This day may not mean a lot to many people, but to me it's very special. It is my grandmother's birthday, her 73rd. Oh, what a day for celebration.

I don't know what it's like for people on their 73rd birthday, what goes through their minds, their reasons for celebrating or not celebrating, but I know how my grandmother's birthday made me feel. Blessed, overjoyed, thankful, and elated are just a few of the words I can think of. You see, in August 2004 my grandmother was diagnosed with Stage IIIC Ovarian Cancer. Stage III3 means the cancer is in one or both ovaries, and one or both of the following are present: Cancer has spread to lymph nodes (any T, N1, M0) Deposits of cancer larger than 2 cm (about 3/4 inch) across are seen in the abdomen (T3c, N0, M0). (Information courtesy of My grandmother's cancer was not in her lymph nodes, but her cancer deposits were over 2 cm in size. It was a scary time for our family. The matriarch who has eaten well her whole life is now faced with the battle of her life, just before her 65th birthday. It didn't seem fair. It wasn't fair. But Cancer does not discriminate. I wondered how she would get through, and morbidly, how long she would live. A couple months? A couple years? I had no clue. No one did.

This is a why today is SO big to me. It's been 8 years since that diagnosis, and she's still here to celebrate her birthday. Grandma is undergoing chemo again, so she doesn't know how she'll feel from one day to the next...let alone one hour to the next. With that in mind, we (my family and I) decided that we would periodically visit her throughout the day. Tom, Zachary and I went over to her house this morning, and she looked better than she had in months. She had color. She was smiling. She was herself. On Friday I called her to check on how she was feeling as she had just had chemo Tuesday. She's been suffering from terrible reflux and heartburn that was so crippling she could barely eat at all. When she went to the doctor, she told him about a medicine that my mother takes for a similar problem. He looked it up and said, "Let's give it a try." You know what...IT WORKED!! When I called her on Friday she sounded SO GOOD! She raved about all the food she was able to eat and keep down. She was so happy, and that made my day. Unfortunately that news was followed by bad news. With Ovarian Cancer patients, they monitor their CA125 levels. The higher the number, the more active the cancer is. When Grandma started chemo again her numbers were in the 30's. A month later they were in the 70's. This month the numbers were in the 130's. Fear shot through me, but she told me, "We're chasing it with the chemo. It'll be ok."

The past several weeks I haven't been dealing well with my grandmother starting chemo again at all. Fear set in, deep in my bones, and was crippling. I love her so much there aren't words adequate enough to express it, and she's sick...really sick, and has been for 8 very long years and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. That sucks. It's so hard to watch someone you love so deeply go through hell and back and not seem to get better. In the last couple weeks I've shut down. I don't want to talk about it. I feel like I've told the story so many times and people are sick of hearing about it. I feel like I don't really have the right to be as sad as I am. I feel like I'm complaining, and while I don't mean to, I'm sure to some it may come off that way, and I don't have the right. I'm not the one who is sick. This past week has been the worst, largely because she was still struggling with eating, she was weak and not getting any better. All week my heart just felt heavy in my chest. I didn't want to talk. I really just wanted to be left alone. I even went to bed early...really early. I couldn't take the days anymore. I honestly cannot remember ever feeling so depressed.

As I was driving to work on Friday morning, something was nagging at me to call her, so I did. When she told me the medicine was helping her and she was finally able to eat I was overwhelmed with joy. I was so happy for HER.

It's amazing the things we take for granted, and I think being able to eat would have to be one of the biggest. Now my grandma, who absolutely loves food, can eat again, which means she can gain strength and continue to fight this cancer head on. Thank you Lord for the recommendation of the medicine, for the medicine itself, for the doctor who made the medicine and for her oncologist who prescribed it. If not for all these people, my grandmother's quality of life wouldn't be what it is on her very special day, and if you know someone battling cancer you know how special each and every birthday is.

Today I am overwhelmed with gratitude that my grandma had a good day. I know they're probably not all going to be like this, but I am so happy that on her day she was well and happy and able to enjoy her family.

Monday, August 6, 2012


I've been thinking, knowing that I needed to put something down about what is going on, but I've been fighting it like I always do. My mind runs in cycles of thinking maybe it's good to let it out, and then the thoughts that it's really not a good idea. Some people already know, some all too well, and I feel like there are times when they tire of hearing about it. Not that anyone has ever said it, but it's gone on so's a cycle of sickness and health. Pain and healing. Relief and frustration. And I feel dumb for feeling like I have a reason to be so upset.

I'm not looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow my beautiful, sweet, strong and courageous grandmother begins chemotherapy again. I can't even tell you how many times, how many different kinds she's taken. All I know right now is that it's been a lot. A lot.

This month marks 8 years since she was first diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. I remember how I was told, my mother beside herself screaming, "My mother has cancer!" and feeling like the world was collapsing around me. Every second of that experience is branded in my memory, and every time she starts chemo again I feel like my knees go weak, the words escape me and the tears roll. Then I become this recluse not wishing to discuss it because it makes me extremely vulnerable. This woman I absolutely adore is sick and there isn't a damn thing I can do.

A few months ago my grandmother was on a different type of chemotherapy. She was on it for several months, and then it got to the point where she could barely swallow food or drink. She had a scope done and the oncologist didn't see anything that would cause this to happen. So she and my grandfather talked about it and they decided it was time for a break from chemo. She'd been on it for so long, it really was time. When she went in for her first blood test after stopping chemo, her numbers had dropped substantially...almost 20 points. I'd begun to wonder if she'd been on the chemo so long that it was inhibiting her immune system and now it was finally rebounding. There was a little sliver of hope that things were finally going to get better, but something told me not to get my hopes up too high. It was during this time that her oncologist's office contacted her to let her know that Doxil, the kind of chemo she'd responded best to, was now accepting new names for their waiting list for the drug and recommended that she try to get on that list just in case. (Yes, there is a waiting list for this kind of chemo. Crazy huh?) She got on the waiting list, and it was a good thing because the next time they ran her blood work her numbers had jumped up and she was beginning to feel bad again. She was having pain and other symptoms that are common in Ovarian Cancer patients. She is also having more difficulty keeping food down. So she is scheduled to start chemo tomorrow. One dose per month for six months.

Since learning this I have not wanted to talk about it. Not to my husband, my sisters, my best friend. No one. Actually I still have no desire to discuss it because I'll become a sobbing, babbling idiot and it's not a great sight. I've clammed up. I didn't call her for two weeks. I don't know what to say. I'm afraid I'll start crying and then upset her. I'm afraid of the cancer. I'm so afraid that I have completely let my fear take over. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Yesterday I took Zachary over to their house to swim and I talked to her for a little bit. She was tired and looked weak. She was so small when I gave her a hug. It's so hard to see her like that. I don't want her to have to deal with this crap anymore. I wish there was something I could do that would make it better. I'm working on talking to her more. I hear all the time how lucky I am that she is so close, and they're right I am beyond blessed. I just wish I knew how to deal with this better. I seem to always shut down when she gets sick. I know I am so lucky. I have friends who have lost mothers and other family members to Ovarian Cancer in a shorter amount of time than this. Eight years is a long time to live with Ovarian Cancer. I don't negate that for one second. I know how blessed we are that she is still here with us and continuing to fight. She's the strongest 5 foot tall German I will ever know. She is amazing.

So I need some help. I need prayer in a big way. First, please keep my grandmother in your thoughts and prayers. Her name is Irene. Please pray for her strength and healing through this entire process. Second, please pray for my grandpa, Dean. I know this is very hard on him no matter how much strength he feigns. Last, please pray for our family. We are all dealing with this differently, some better than others, but please pray for us to be uplifting to her, and that we would be able to help her with anything she needs emotionally or otherwise. Please pray for strength in spirit because this is very emotionally taxing at times. Please pray that we can overcome our fear so that we can be fully present for her and help her in any way that she needs.  It really means the world to me. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Sometimes, not often, but sometimes songs reach me at the exact moment in which I need them.  Wednesday I was online and I learned that Alanis Morissette is scheduled to release her newest album, Havoc and Bright Lights, this fall.  The first single from the album is "Guardian."  I have listened to this song several times and it reaches out and grabs me at this precise moment on multiple levels.

Being a mother is the toughest and yet most rewarding responsibility a woman can face.  This small face looks to you for everything, every need, love, guidance, etc.  I believe that our maternal instincts reach beyond our own children.  Whether these instincts touch the children of our nonnuclear families, children we meet in passing, or those we never encounter, our need, desire, craving to protect them is held sacred in the core of our humanity.

As I listened to "Guardian" my mind wandered to thoughts of children I will never meet, children whose lives are traumatically lived and exposed to the most disgusting atrocities.  These are the children that I pray will be helped by our efforts through Stop Child Trafficking Now (SCTNow

Music reaches people on different levels, and songs have different meanings, perceptions to every single person who lets the words soak into their heart.  For me, "Guardian" speaks to me as a story of someone who has been through hell and back, the people who weren't there for them, and the people who made the brave decision to stand up for them and offer comfort as their guardian.  The chorus especially speaks to me and encourages me on a level I never anticipated.

I feel compelled to do more for victims of sex trafficking in conjunction with fighting the demand by volunteering with SCTNow. To be there for these people who have been broken by those who couldn't care less.  To be uplifting.  To think beyond what people tell me I am capable of doing. To be present and active in changing lives one step at a time.  To be a guardian.


By: Alanis Morissette

You, you who has smiled when you’re in pain 
You who has soldiered through the profane 
They were distracted and shut down 

So why, why would you talk to me at all 
such words were dishonorable and in vain 
their promise as solid as a fog 

and where was your watchman then 

I’ll be your keeper for life as your guardian 
I’ll be your warrior of care your first warden 
I’ll be your angel on call, I’ll be on demand 
The greatest honor of all, as your guardian 

you, you in the chaos feigning sane 
You who has pushed beyond what’s humane 
Them as the ghostly tumbleweed 

And where was your watchman then 

I’ll be your keeper for life as your guardian 
I’ll be your warrior of care your first warden 
I’ll be your angel on call, I’ll be on demand 
The greatest honor of all, as your guardian 

now no more smiling mid crestfall 
No more managing unmanageables 
No more holding still in the hailstorm 

Now enter your watchwoman 

I’ll be your keeper for life as your guardian 
I’ll be your warrior of care your first warden 
I’ll be your angel on call, I’ll be on demand 
The greatest honor of all, as your guardian 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Letter to TN State Senator Stacey Campfield

Dear Senator Campfield,

I am e-mailing you in response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.  While I appreciate your passion for protecting students, this matter is not one that I can say I agree with you in the slightest manner.

First let me start off with telling you a story.  It was 1993 and I was a 6th grade student at New Providence Middle School in Clarksville, Tennessee.  As you are well aware, the AIDS epidemic was fiercely on the rise at this time.  I will never forget going to the school’s open house with my mother, and my science teacher, Mrs. James, telling the parents that she would have to have permission from all of them to talk about AIDS in the classroom.  All of the parents were ok with that…all but one.  At the end of our meeting with the teacher, one of my classmate’s parents told the teacher that she didn’t feel such topics were appropriate for the classroom, and that this was “truly an issue for gay people only.” I cried when I left the open house that day.  I was 11 years old and I knew what she said was not true, and her ignorance was depriving us of the ability to be properly educated on the subject.  That year Mrs. James did not teach about AIDS because of one parent’s ignorance of the subject.

My reason for telling you that story is several fold.  We now are well aware that AIDS is not just a “gay issue.” AIDS affects individuals of every race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and creed.  It is not a biased virus.  However, because one individual chose not to educate herself properly about the illness, many children were not allowed to learn about it.  While I am still bothered by that day, I am thankful to this woman.  If it were not for her ignorance, I would not be such an advocate for the rights of all, including those of the LGBT community.

It is out of sheer ignorance that we were denied proper education of a very serious matter, and the bill you have proposed does the very same thing.  You are denying the children of Tennessee the right to learn about what it means to accept others, and you are essentially breeding more hate in an already fragile community of students.

It is hard being different.  It’s even more difficult to be different when the state says you cannot discuss your differences.  You cannot talk to your guidance counselor about being gay.  What if the only stability a child has is their teacher?

Your bill does nothing but further fuel the fire of hate and further deprive our young children proper education and skills that will help them understand that no matter our differences we are all people deserving equality.

I am fully aware that educating teachers on how to properly teach and or counsel students about homosexuality will take time, but it is worthwhile.  I also understand that you’re concerned that teachers are already overloaded with math, science and English.  We teach to a test.  Whether you choose to admit it or not, that is in essence what we do in the state of Tennessee.  Why not make the investment to teach to the test of life?  These are skills that children will carry with them throughout their lives, both socially and professionally.  Furthermore, to address your concern that a teacher might “do more harm than good” when addressing the subject of homosexuality, why not make this a part of guidance class?  My son has guidance at least once every other week, and nothing would make me happier than knowing that he is learning social skills that he will carry with him for the rest of his life.

Also on the subject of teachers potentially doing “more harm than good,” if there is a teacher that is so ignorant and expresses such a lack of control that he or she cannot keep their personal feelings out of the classroom, than they need to be counseled and/or removed from their position. The classroom is not the place for a teacher’s biased opinion.  Teachers cannot teach my child that one religion is better than another, or that one race is greater than another no matter their personal feelings.  I think it is time that we add no sexual orientation is greater than another to that list.

I am also aware that you have made mention of the anti-bullying legislation in your arguments that students are protected from bullying because of this bill.  To my knowledge, the anti-bullying campaign is not available in all schools.  My son’s school just started it this year, and I know that last year there were only three or four schools in Montgomery County that it was made available to.

The anti-bullying campaign educates students about being responsible and respectful, however it cannot stop bullying.  It can attempt to prevent it, but it cannot stop it.  While I understand that you co-sponsored the anti-bullying legislation, you have just sponsored a bill that contradicts it.  At a time when the suicide rates of our young people are growing each day because of bullying, I cannot believe that you would even consider proposing such legislation.

Whether you are for or against the rights of the LGBT community, one matter that is ridiculously obvious is that you have shamelessly ignored separation between church and state.  I understand that you are a Christian.  I am a Christian as well, and I find it deeply disturbing that while we are called to love others as ourselves, you would propose legislation that promotes ignorance, misinformation and hate.  Your bill is making it obvious to the rest of the world that Tennessee has missed the mark, that we are behind the rest of the country in our educational practices and that we are not concerned with the well-being of LGBT children, or children who come from LGBT homes.

I want more than anything to be proud of the state that I live in, but this simply isn’t possible if we continue to wallow in our ignorance of the LGBT community.  It is my hope, and ultimately my prayer, that we will live out Mark 12:28-31 and love our neighbors as ourselves.  With your proposed legislation, we are denying our teachers the right to speak freely and answer our children’s questions. This will only result in continued ignorance and intolerance of the LGBT members of our society.


Kelli Faerber

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Surprises in the Heartfelt Department

Last night I was blessed to participate in the Spaghetti Dinner to benefit F.U.E.L. at Xtreme Ministries. It was a wonderful night of service and incredible fellowship. It was wonderful to see the people we'd given tickets to come in and have a meal they might not have otherwise had. That alone would have been worth it, but the fact that the concerted effort yielded enough funds to feed the students that receive food from F.U.E.L. for a month made my eyes well up with tears. Children who would otherwise spend their weekends with little to no food now would be able to eat. That was overwhelming.

Maybe because there was a point in my life that I was walking the fine line between being able to buy food or standing in a line at a food pantry. Even working five jobs at one time I was not able to make ends meet. There were times when Zachary was little that people blessed us with food and clothing that I couldn't afford to buy. I thank God for those times, because it makes me so much more passionate about serving those in need.

When we were cleaning up after last night's dinner, Lyndsey asked me if I knew of anyone who could use two large bags of salad mix because they didn't use it and didn't want it to go to waste. I contacted the director of Loaves and Fishes and she told me that I could drop it off the next day.

I called Loaves and Fishes this morning and spoke with a gentleman named John. I told him everything and said that I just wanted to make sure someone would be there when I got there. He thanked me profusely and said that they would be there. When I arrived, John greeted me at the door and helped me bring in the items. He asked me again where the food had come from and I told him.

"Thank you so very much Miss Kelli. I used the last of my produce this morning," he said.

In that moment I felt a surge of emotions, and tried to keep myself together. I was just the delivery person, but felt so blessed to do so and hear what he told me and hand him the gift that the church was giving them. Albeit small someone was going to be fed because of it.

God really spoke to me in that moment. More. More needs to be done. More needs to given. More action needs to be taken. We are willing to spend $5 on a cup of coffee but not spend an extra $5 or more at the grocery store to donate to the local food pantries, or donate to the food pantries or soup kitchens directly. Would it hurt us so much to spend the extra money at the grocery store and drop the food off at Loaves and Fishes, Manna Cafe, F.U.E.L. etc? They are all in need our help so that they can serve our community.

To me it's a cause that strikes a chord deep in my soul. I look at the food in my cupboard and think how blessed I am, but I am also reminded of all of those who might go hungry tonight. So here is my challenge to all of us: Give. Give more. You will be serving those who would otherwise go without, and you will be greeted with the greatest of surprises in the heartwarming department...knowing that because of you someone will be able to eat.

"For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in." Matthew 25:35

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear John

I gave too much credit to the story

Of why you weren’t present in my life

I didn’t realize at the time

You were poison of the bitterest kind

You left me to feel



Under rug swept

You left me to feel




What’s a girl to do with that?

How’s this girl supposed to feel?

And you wonder why I won’t

Why I’ll never call you dad.

You can be so lethal

Words slice like blades

It’s all about you

All the time and I’m tired of it

Could you ever see me?

Could you ever look beyond you?

Your tunnel vision is making me crazy

Your stories ever changing

I have had enough

Why must you always

Did your claws in so deep

Why is it I lack the ability

To make you understand

Do you even see me?

Do you have a clue who I am?

Allow me to introduce you

To the girl you left in 1982

I’m the girl who can’t believe anyone

I’m the girl who doubts everything

The queen of second-guessing

Nothing I do will ever be good enough

Dear John,

I kick my own ass

No one can beat me down

Quite like I can

I pick myself apart

I worry the world I know

Will soon fall out

From under my feet

For me to thrive

For me to survive

It’s time to cut the cord

It’s time to let go

Every time, every single time

You verbally beat me down

You tear me apart

Those days are over

It’s time for me to move

To put one foot in front of the other

To leave the past in the past

It’s time to bid farewell

I forgive you

But I must move past you

If there's a shred

Of hope for me to grow

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Day...Again

All week snow was in the forecast for Thursday, but if you're a Tennessean, you know that the weather people generally don't have a clue what they're talking about. I think this is why everyone had some serious doubts about us getting any snow at all. Low and behold, we got snow. Quite a bit of snow actually.

Last night when I finally got home, the wind was gusting so hard and the snow hurt when it hit my face. It was crazy, but it sure is beautiful today. Especially since I don't have to drive in it. I had scheduled to be off work today so that I could be here when our furniture was delivered. However, due to the blizzard of 2011, Haverty's will not be delivering our furniture today. So, I am enjoying the view from my window, doing a little blogging and spending some quality time with Zachary.

This morning I was doing a little work on my computer when in my peripheral I saw something walking outside. I looked and realized there was a beautiful fox walking around in the lot across the street. I yelled for Zachary to get my zoom lens for me, and I was able to get some pictures. Unfortunately, they didn't turn out as great as I would have liked since I accidentally left the camera in the aperture priority setting. Ugh.

Here are a few pictures I've taken since yesterday. Enjoy!

PS TDOT, if you're reading this, my road still needs to be plowed. Thank you.