Simmons Family Ranch
Life offers a series of invitations. Some you welcome with open arms. Some are hidden, and it takes a bit to recognize the invitation. And some you resist. But the reason you go from one place to the next in life is that you say yes to the invitations. A person who awakened me to the invitations in my life is my friend Terri Joy.
One particular invitation came raging on the scene last year, and it was unexpected, life-altering, and unwelcome. But Terri Joy helped me through it. She helped me to see new possibilities, surrender to this new force, and ultimately feel hope again. As a result, I welcomed this unchosen invitation, grew from it, and now I’m better off.
Then this past August, something happened that still feels like yesterday. I had just finished leading a workshop at a nature center. As I walked to my car, I noticed the sun was shining, birds were chirping, and the forest seemed to be smiling. Life was good. My phone rang; it was Terri. She wanted to tell me something personally. She had cancer.
And it was not just some benign spot that could be handled in an outpatient procedure in an afternoon. Terri had cancer in multiple places in multiple organs. Treatment would start right away, but the long-term outlook was not good. Immediately, I thought of loss. What good is a world without Terri in it? I couldn’t imagine a world in which she was not a part.
But Terri had a different perspective. She saw this as an invitation to live well. “I want to live well while I’m dying,” she said to me. And Terri did that—she reunited with lost family members, spent time with loved ones intentionally, and lived authentically rather than escaping into substance or fantasy. Terri accepted the invitation that was offered to her.
She was walking the talk she had dispensed to me. So when I asked Terri to record a podcast episode with me, she didn’t hesitate.
We recorded the conversation in late October and published it in November. Terri didn’t know if the cancer treatment was working or whether she had years left or mere months. It turned out Terri had just weeks left. On Christmas Day, Terri Joy passed from this life much sooner than we thought she would.
And now we who loved her are stuck in a world without Terri.
In early January, friends gathered online for a time of remembrance. We shared memories; we laughed and cried. We played a clip from the podcast. Once again, we heard Terri Joy’s voice, her laugh, and her lessons and stories. It was as if, in some way, Terri was on the call, back in our lives again.
I am so glad I asked her to record that podcast, and I am so glad she accepted my invitation.
What invitations are being offered to you? Sometimes they’re easy to welcome, sometimes hidden at first, and sometimes undesirable. But you don’t get to the next place without saying yes. What can you say yes to that will move you forward?
Terri said yes to embracing a life of faith, living with bold authenticity, and loving people deeply. She lived well, even when she was dying.
But here’s the thing–we’re not that different from Terri. We are all dying. Terri just had more details. What can you say yes to today?
About the picture: One of Terri's last wishes was spending time at the Simmons Family Ranch in Texas. She made the trip just a few days before her passing.
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