Tag Archive | life

Quilting to Crush Cancer ~ Updated 5-28-14

Relay for Life Logo

Do you know someone who currently has some type of cancer?  Either themselves or a family member?  Do you have a friend, acquaintance or know someone who has survived cancer of any kind?  A friend of mine died last week from cancer, and, for some reason, this one death has brought the whole cancer fight to the forefront of my life.  Suddenly.  I have been affected by cancer in my family.  I have a 14 yr old great-nephew who is a young survivor.  My father had cancer (though he passed on due to other causes).  Did you know that this month, March, is National Colon Cancer Awareness month?  Have you ever had a colonoscopy?  Ladies, do you check your breasts often and regularly?  Me?  Yes, yes and yes!

I not only talk the talk, now I’m going to walk the walk!  I will be walking to save lives on Friday & Saturday, June 13-14, 2014, at CW Baker High School (my alma mater) in Baldwinsville, New York.  Why?  Because I CAN and want to for those who cannot.  Relay participants, including me, all participate because we’ve been affected by cancer in some way, and because a Relay For Life event gives us the power to fight back. This is my opportunity to honor cancer survivors, remember people we have lost, and help raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

To help the ACS receive even more donations, I’m not simply asking my friends, family etc. to make a donation, but I’ve giving it a little more “interest”.  I’m making a queen size quilt to raffle, and here’s your chance to not only make a difference by donating to the American Cancer Society, but you just might win a great quilt in the process!

My Relay for Life Quilt is an approximate queen size quilt.  The top and bottom are 100% cotton.  The batting is a collaboration of cotton, bamboo and rayon… and is soft yet light.  The colors of the top are navy blue print, lilac, and ecru & beige print.  The backing is a “mottled” purple.

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This disassembled quilt has been kicking around in my closet for about 4 years, and I finally decided to pull it out and finish it just for this purpose.  It is currently “in the works”.  I am working on “sandwiching it” this weekend, and begin quilting next week and will hopefully have it bound by the end of this month.  I will continue to update and post photos as I go along.

Now to the nitty gritty.  Would you like to own this quilt?  Maybe you’d like to give it as a gift to someone who likes purple?  Maybe you were going to donate to my relay anyway, and this gives you that much more incentive!?  Chances at winning this quilt will cost you a $10.00 donation to My Personal Relay for Life.  I am participating on a local team called “The Pastor’s Flock“, with friends and my daughter, Kristen.  Our team has a $1,000 goal to reach, and my personal goal is $100.  You can help us reach and surpass our respective goals by taking a chance on this quilt raffle.   Here’s how:

Go to My Personal Relay Page and click on the “Donate Now” link, right there to the right of my photo.  Do Not Donate Anonymously.  You need to donate using your name so I will know to put your name on a raffle ticket!  A $5.00 donation will get you one raffle ticket; a $20 donation will get you four and so on.  Once you donate, I will receive an email notification that you have made a donation on My Personal Relay Page, and I’ll know to add your raffle ticket to all the others who have donated as well!  ONLINE DONORS HAVE UNTIL MIDNIGHT JUNE 10, 2014, TO MAKE YOUR DONATION AND GET A RAFFLE TICKET IN YOUR NAME ADDED FOR A CHANCE TO WIN.

When and how will you know that you’ve won?  The quilt will accompany our Team, “The Pastor’s Flock“, to the event on June 13, 2014.  There, it will be displayed and there will be an opportunity for others to buy raffle tickets for $5.00 each while at the event.  Those who purchase raffle tickets at the event will have their names added to the online donors and all will be mixed up before a winner is chosen!  One ticket will be drawn, and that person will win the quilt.  If I know that person, I will notify him/her in the most expedient way (email/phone/text/Facebook/Wordpress blog)… OR there is a space on the online donation form under Section 2  “Your Gift” where you can fill in a “private note” for me personally.  Give me your contact information there.  If you’re an out-of-towner donor, you’ll need to pay for your own shipping (I’ll get in touch with you about that).

Hey, did I mention this is an overnight gig?  Yep, it starts at 7 pm Friday night (right after a 10 hr day at work!) and goes on all through the night until 7 am the next (Saturday) morning! (see the logo?)  Talk about challenging!!  There are “events” throughout the night to keep us motivated (and awake!).  If you go to THIS LINK, you’ll see how Relay for Life Baldwinsville participates in the fight.

I think that about explains it all, don’t you?  Now, who wants to help me AND my team reach our goals?  Who wants to win that gorgeous quilt?  Who wants to help END CANCER?  You know what to do ~

CLICK HERE TO DONATE ON MY PERSONAL RELAY FOR LIFE WEB PAGE.

~ Thank you for your generous support ~

If you would like to ask a question, or need information, you can email me at

tamalecks@yahoo.com

Tamara Eckstadt

UPDATE~

May 28, 2014 ~ Time for an update!  Well, the quilt is all done ~ has been for awhile.  I should’ve updated this before now!  Been getting ready for the Relay for Life part now.  I’ll be hauling a bunch of stuff to the school grounds for this overnight campout… tent, sleeping bag(s), chairs, table, some sort of lighting (we will have one electrical outlet) etc.  I’m putting together an on-site bake sale at our vendor’s tent that will be set up near the hub of activities – also near the porta-potty (we’ve got our priorities straight!).  The event starts at 7 pm and continues on all night until around 4:30-5:00 a.m.  There will be bands, entertainment, themed laps around the track, all kinds of other fundraisers in the midst.  Sounds like a busy/fun night coming up!  I’m tentatively planning to have our Quilt Raffle drawing at midnight (EST) ~ hopefully going to have our Team Captain pull the winning drawing.

Here are a few more photos of the quilt being raffled…

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I hope you’ve enjoyed checking out my Relay for Life Quilt for the quilt raffle.  Lotsa work and love right there.  I think the best part, so far, is that everyone who has purchased a ticket(s) is someone I really care about ~ whether they’re family, friends, co-workers and/or colleagues.  I’d love to see any one of them win this special gift.  And I’d love to see more family, friends, co-workers and/or colleagues get in on the raffle!  It’s SEW EZ!  The links to donate/purchase a raffle ticket are above.  Only $5.00 per chance!

I’ll be updating again, once more, but this time from the event.  TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

I’m Getting Old ~

I have recently begun to acknowledge that I am, indeed, getting old.  At 50-something years of age – okay, 55, but I admit I had to do the math on a calculator because I couldn’t remember which 50-something I was – I have come to realize and accept that I am past middle aged and on my way downhill to the end of my life.  I am neither afraid nor sad about this revelation, as I know exactly where I’m going, and I know I will go when He says my time here is done, not before.

I’ve noticed subtle changes in my physical being:  thinner skin, “age spots” where you least want them to be, easier to bruise and longer to heal, memory loss.  Perhaps the worst of these, for me, is the memory loss.  I can no longer remember year-to-year how old I am, I cannot remember my grandchildren’s birthdays, and to be honest, sometimes I have to look on my calendar for the exact date of my husband’s birthday.  I remember it’s in early April.  I keep an in depth, detailed Calendar on my Outlook application at my work, and I routinely print it out and keep it in a like-size binder that I carry with me at all times.  I keep everything immediately important in there, or it will be forgotten.  Even when my payday is (every OTHER week) and when bills are due.  My binder is my lifeline.

My health is failing year by year, and I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to mobilize without major assistance.  I have back issues, knee issues and now foot issues.  When I get sick, I take forever to come back to good health.  A simple cold can turn into bronchitis/sinusitis, strep ~ and I may not recover for several weeks.  My shopping is now curtailed by a myriad of orthopedic pains that only allow for me to walk for approximately 25-30 minutes total before I have to abandon whatever plans I had for doing things outside the home.  I know a good portion of my problems are most likely due to weighty issues, and I try to exercise (recumbant bike & treadmill) on my good days ~ but my good days are fewer and far between than the bad ones.

Lately, I find myself measuring what’s left of my life in increments of 7-10 years at a time.  Maybe I should take it down to 5 years.  I am fairly confident that I have a maximum of about 12-15 years left before I am summoned to be by my Lord’s side.  And I’m totally okay with that.  This is not a “complaining” post, but just one of acknowledgement.  But increments of just 5 years left of life seems so very short when there is so much more I want to accomplish before I leave this world.

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I want to surround myself with my children and my grandchildren as often as is possible.  Since one of my children keeps three of my grandchildren in Alaska, I am in despair of seeing them again.  I am blessed that I can see most of my children/grandchildren as they are mostly local (with 35 miles)… although some I still do not get to see often enough even though close.  Oddly enough maybe for some of you to imagine, but the most important thing I would like to accomplish would be to regain a relationship with my estranged son.  I pray to God every day that, for whatever reason I don’t know, he would forgive me and learn to love me and we could have a mother/son relationship again.  Did we ever?  I think so, but my memory fails me.  He appears to put all of his thought to his deceased father.  I often wonder if he’ll care when I’m gone, being relatively sure that, if he even does, it’ll be short-lived.  Our distant relationship is the most painful thing in my life right now.

But I digress.  I am relatively sure that I will move on before my soul-mate and husband.  His family has a history of longevity much more than mine.  And, besides, he has strict orders not to go before me ~ by me.  If he were to die first, I do not know how I could continue.  I can’t even conceive of it!  Maybe it’s selfish of me to think this way, after all, he would be just as devastated and hard-pressed to continue without me.  Anyway, my orders to him are just tongue-in-cheek.  We both know that we do not have control of when we will be going home to be with God.  We only know that we will be together again in eternity at some point of His choosing.  That’s enough… for now.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my thoughts.

TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

Falling for Taughannock ~

This past Monday (my day off) I decided to take the day and make a photo excursion of it… all by myself.  I’ve been wanting to try new ways of capturing waterfalls using various shutter speeds and aperture settings, and I thought the always-intriguing Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, NY, would be a nice challenge.  I’m looking to get that slowed motion look rather than stop-action, so off I went with camera bag full of everything I have, plus my tripod to help me get those special effects.  It was nearly 50 miles to the Taughannock Falls State Park, and I enjoyed the ride through wine country and along Cayuga Lake as the sun shone brightly at 8:30 a.m. when I left on my journey.  Even though I knew in the back of my head that I needed more cloudy conditions for what I was looking for, I hoped for the best and headed south.

Before heading to the falls area, I visited the “lake side” area of the park, across the street from the falls (across Highway Route 89).  There were the offices there, and a much-needed restroom before I would start my “journey” to the falls.  But there were also photo opportunities that I took advantage of.  Then I re-parked in the falls lot and loaded myself up for the walk.

Mind you, it’s “only” 3/4 of a mile back to the falls along very nicely kept trails.  I stopped at the lower falls first and tried taking some of my “specialty shots”, to no avail.  I think it was too sunny.  But I spent several minutes trying many different settings before I lost faith and turned to go to the main falls.  I knew, for me, this would be a challenging walk, as I’m not in ideal physical condition ~ being well overweight, bad knees, bad back… but I had a good attitude, and was looking forward to going at my own pace for a change, and enjoying the woodsy outdoors after being cooped up all winter.  I had nothing else on my agenda for the day, and decided to take my time and moreso.  (if you click on a pic, it’ll bring it up to full size)

There were few people and far between during my journey.  But I enjoyed the solace and just the sounds of the rushing waters and some birds of prey circling and flying over the water far above.  I did have to stop at several strategically-placed benches for a brief rest, then I continuted on and finally reached my destination.  I was the only one there.  I walked as far up the trail as I could until there was no trail left, but the roaring falls right in front of me.  Click – click, more pictures.  I surveyed the gorge around me and noticed those raptors were nesting in the sides of the cliffs.  I sat in silence for awhile, then gathered up my things and headed back the 3/4 mile from which I’d come.

I don’t think I’d even gotten out of sight of the falls when I misstepped on a small rock and almost fell on my face on the trail.  I heard this LOUD crunching in my foot and then the shooting pain that accompanied and immediately I jumped onto my left foot to take the weight off the pain.  I’ll never forget that sound!  Loud enough so I heard it over the falls!  I quickly looked for someplace to sit, but the nearest bench was maybe a few hundred feet down the path.  I tried to put my foot down, but it was futile.  I steadied myself enough to get my tripod into position to be used as a walking stick, then I set off  v-e-r-y    s-l-o-w-l-y taking tiny, baby steps and just dealing with the pain.  What else was I going to do?  No cell service.  There had been a couple of couples and a pair of women with some toddler children come and gone.  I didn’t figure there was anyone to help, so I just sucked it up and walked imperceptably slow.  It was going to be a LONG walk back.

And, indeed, it was!  It took me 75 minutes to limp that 3/4 mile!  But I was never so happy to see those lower falls and the highway, then the parking lot and my car!  After all is said and done, it was not so bad as a sprain, but I just seemingly tore all or most of the tendons in the top of my foot.  Two days later, with the help of an Ace bandage, I’m still limping but well on the mend.  I did stop and sit in the car for a bit, and I prayed and thanked God that I’d made it back and that it wasn’t so serious.  And I thanked Him for giving me the opportunity to see all that I did and enjoy what He’d created.  Something so simple as looking up at the blue sky through the trees has new meaning for me.  It’s amazing the life lessons you can get out of an injured foot!

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time… TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

Forgiven and Set Free ~

I am a child of God.  I am His daughter, His princess, His brown-eyed girl and his devoted and loving child.  I’m pretty happy with this arrangement, and I’m sure so is He.  I spent a good deal of this early summer learning and getting comfortable with myself, and my God.  It took a lot of hard work, tears and revelation to be able to admit, privately and publicly, that I had an abortion when I had just turned 14 years old.  It’s not something you can just discuss over lunch with a friend, or blurt out at some perceived opportune moment.  Even now I have difficulty putting this “out there” for all to know, but the difference is now I know it serves a purpose.  If telling my experience can save just one girl/young woman/woman from choosing abortion over any other option, I will consider this sacrifice of privacy a success.

   Yes, I found myself pregnant at the age of 13, in 1974.  Surprised?  I was!  As a 13 year old in 1974, I was extremely naïve, and just plain didn’t know much.  So when a young man approached me (he was also 13) and wanted to be my boyfriend, and he gave me lots of attention, I was flattered and loved the attention.  Who wouldn’t?  We took that next step, and we weren’t careful.  As I look back I think “What was I thinking???”  Well, obviously I wasn’t.

   There are some blank spots in my memory surrounding that summer.  Somehow our parents found out, and took it from there, making the decisions and all of the arrangements to get things taken care of quietly so that he (the baby’s father) and I would be able to continue on with our lives without interruption or inconvenience… I guess.  The next thing I knew, I was being admitted to Crouse Hospital for three days, and my parents left me there alone.  I wouldn’t discover until decades later that I was never alone.  But here I was.  This was not to be your “simple” abortion, by the way, somehow months had gone by before my admittance, and I was now almost 5 months along, well into my second trimester.  So a “saline abortion” had been ordered by my OB/GYN.  Now, at my age, I had no idea what was even happening, all I cared about was if it was going to hurt.  As I stared at the 10″ needle that was about to be inserted into my uterus, my doctor and his attending nurse tried to reassure me.  I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth, thinking about being able to go home and go horseback riding… after all, it was summer vacation! 

   Somewhere in the middle of the night the contractions began and kept me awake.  I labored for the better part of 10 hours in my hospital room, by myself, as I watched the nurses going about their routine outside in the hall.  I remember thinking to myself when would this end and what would be the result?  When could I go home?  Then I remembered “three days” and knew I’d be able to leave the next day.  The nursing staff pretty much ignored me and left me to myself as I felt like my stomach was about to explode.  Why hadn’t I been allowed breakfast that morning when I woke up?  Finally, after an eternity, I had to push and my child was born in the hospital bed.  I felt the little arms and legs jerk between my legs, and I called for a nurse.  A 40-something year old woman came into the room and seemed surprised to see a baby there, but she began to wrap him up and prepared to whisk him away to who-knows-where.  I quickly asked if it was a boy or girl, and she hastily told me my son had been born alive… then they were gone.  My parents picked me up the next evening after they finished work, and they took me home as if I’d just had my tonsils out.  It was never mentioned again, by them or by me.

   Decades later, when I began having bouts of depression and uncontrolled crying, my husband and I were stumped as to why.  That is, until I began having thoughts and memories of that summer in 1974, and regrets and doubts about what I should’ve/could’ve done to change my baby’s fate.  See, now I had become a Christian woman, a woman of God, and I didn’t believe in abortion… under any circumstance.  I believe in life at conception, and under no circumstances should a person take that child’s life or it would be considered murder.  Was I really seeing myself in that new light?  Certainly I could not be considered a murderer, as I had no control over what my parents did.  And they couldn’t be murderers, they were my parents, doing only the best that they could for my benefit and future.  Certainly neither God nor I could blame them!

   Well the depression and crying continued intermittently.  I sent to Crouse Hospital for a copy of the records of that abortion, and I got a clinical 4 page assessment of what happened.  “Products of conception” he was called.  My baby boy.  This year, 2012, it hit me again ~ very hard this time.  I confided in a friend, who told me about a post-abortion Bible study group from our church that might be helpful, and she gave me a name and a phone number.  I was skeptical, but I made the call and the arrangements to meet with this “group” and commit myself to getting through this and getting better, getting results, getting to the bottom of this.  The group was to be 10 weeks long, and we met once a week.  Two incredible young, devoted and loving women from church lead the group ~ each confessing that they, too, had been there and back, and that we would get through it and come out alive and better for it.  Seriously?  Who ARE these people?  But I devoted myself to my Monday night sessions, and to the homework as well, which consisted of reading a “workbook” and answering a myriad of questions in addition to reading Bible passages that pertained.

   I learned so much from this Bible study.  I was finally able to mourn the loss of my child.  Society supports women who have lost a child due to miscarriage, or after birth, but nowhere is there recognition or support of a woman who has had an abortion ~ also the loss of a child.  And society would say, “Hey, you’ve had 38 years to get over it,” in my case, but does any mother ever truly “get over” the loss of their child?  I put it right up there with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and in fact, it is referred to PAS (post abortion syndrome), and it is real.  Go figure?  Finally a NAME to address what I’d been experiencing, and an avenue in which to get better!  I learned how to forgive myself, as God has forgiven me, for being complacent in going along with the plans for my son.  I did nothing to thwart his death.  I also was able to forgive all of those people involved in this:  my son’s father, my parents, his parents, even the OB/GYN.  I needed to forgive and show mercy.  Having mercy means that we no longer hope in our hearts that they’ll get what they deserve, no longer want to see them punished.   I could finally put the depression, anger, guilt and even the suicidal thoughts behind me.  I was finally beginning to feel my life come back to me and my spirits lifted.

   At the end of the 10 week study, I felt like a new person (2nd Cor 5:17) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  I realize that there will be times when I think about my son, who has since been named, but I know how to deal with these emotions, and on who I can rely and trust.  I am my Father’s daughter.  Those of us in the Bible study, and our study leaders had a memorial celebration at the end of the 10 weeks at the church.  It was beautiful!  There were flowers, candles, music and speeches in memoriam of our children.  At the end, we let go of helium balloons outside and watched them glide away.  Al and I also purchased and planted a beautiful red oak tree in our front yard in memory of the loss.  The oak tree will grow big and strong, as I know my son would have.  He must’ve been a strong little guy to make it through and survive as long as he did.

   And now I’ve been able to move on and put the past behind me.  I know someday I’ll be able to see him again in Heaven, and I’m looking forward to that day.  Until then, I can rest each day knowing he’s with Our Father, and that my future is set.  And I’m thanking God each day that I’ve been Forgiven and Set Free!

My little red oak tree, planted in memory of Kirk Leroy Thomas (so named by his father and having the same middle and last name as his father). We call it “Kirkwood” for short. The yellow mums were planted from the memorial, as well as the white roses that were given to me by a special Sister in Christ at the memorial. Kirkwood has survived the weather/storms better than any of our other oaks or maples, including my King Crimson maple that stands not far from the strong little oak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4-3-2013 Update ~ Recently our church, Word of Life Assembly of God, in Baldwinsville, NY, helped facilitate a promotional video of the Forgiven and Set Free experience.  It can be found HERE on You Tube.  It breaks my heart and sets me free each time I see it, remember it, remember him (Kirk Leroy Thomas) and hear that song (about abortion).  I hope you’ll visit the link and listen in … can you tell which one is me?

God bless!