Pearls of Wisdom – Terri Brest

It is one of my heart’s desires to encourage women to be all that they can be.  Life is tough and many times, we make it harder on ourselves than we need to.  We are made to be amazing beings!  And while we ARE amazing – we are far from perfect.  Life is all about embracing our imperfections and making them beautiful. Those beautiful imperfections are what defines you.  It is in those imperfections that we are called to share and create beauty with others.  Just like a smooth marble has beauty, so does a rough and callused oyster shell.  An oyster shell is made to withstand a rough and tumble life and in return, a beautiful pearl is created.

Today, I get to share an amazing woman with you who has been a huge inspiration in my life in a short period of time!  I met Terri Brest when she was my mentor mom through MOP’s (Mothers of Preschoolers) and I knew when I met her that she was going to be an awesome mentor!  If I were to pick a woman who I could add as a mother in my life, it would be her. She is open about her own struggles and has a humbling spirit that makes you feel loved and special right where you are. Struggles and challenges are going to hit us hard sometimes, but it’s through women like Terri that we are blessed with the Holy Spirit.  Thank you for all that you are offering to those around you Terri – your love, friendship and faith don’t go unnoticed!  Read on and see how Terri has created the beautiful “pearl” that she is.  The main takeaway from Terri’s interview for me “God doesn’t make junk!”  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THAT because it is so true!

  1. Tell me a little about yourself?  What you do for a living?  Family?  Passions?

I was born and raised in Tonganoxie, KS. My mom instilled a STRONG sense of family in all of her daughters. So naturally, I raised my family that way. I married a K-Stater, and followed him into the US Air Force, where he flew fighters. I have lived in several states, as well as in Germany. I have 6 children…aged 23-38. My hubby and I currently have 16 grandchildren.  I have worked in government work, and teaching preschool. I have had the blessing of not really having to work so I could be present for raising our children full time.

I guess you could say my family is my passion. My parents are both gone, and my 3 sisters and I stay in close contact. I am in constant contact with my children, and LOVE when everyone can make it to our family get-togethers.

I am a Believer. I love the Lord! I am active in church, and my husband and I are involved in the AWANA program at our local church. I believe it is important for children to know Christ early in their precious lives, as that helps  guide them through the difficult task of growing up.

I also enjoying creating. I love to crochet, tat, do stained glass, work with my Silhouette, and, well, just about anything on Pinterest gets pinned to one of my many boards.

(Terri also sells Origami Owl jewelry – which is beautiful! – you can check it out HERE!)

  1. What is the best thing a woman can do in the midst of suffering?

First and foremost, I believe a person (men and women) needs to have a working relationship with the Lord. Being in His Word EVERY DAY is key to surviving the trials and struggles that come our way. I’m not saying these trials and struggles are avoided and that believers are immune…but being close to the Lord everyday and hearing what He has to say to us is key, I believe, to surviving.

I also believe that God speaks through others. Our husbands, our parents, our siblings, and our believer friends. God uses others to impart His wisdom, provide affirmation on our decisions, and just provide wise counsel.

I think we, as women, believe that we are the only ones going through tough times that come our way. Facebook, social media, etc, give a FALSE representation of how society lives. We compare ourselves too often to those we follow on these social media outlets, instead of diving into His Word to find out how HE wants us to live.

I also believe communication is crucial to life, let alone in the midst of suffering. Talking with qualified people lessens the degree of how ‘horrible’ we see our situations. Talking truly helps.

  1. What are some practical ways that you build your happiness that can help other women do the same?

I think happiness is over-rated. I think what we should be looking to find and maintain is joy in life. I’ve always heard that happiness comes from happenings, but joy comes from Jesus. I think, once again, this goes back to having an active personal relationship with the Lord. Once you have that true joy, then you find joy everywhere…doing dishes, laundry, driving kids to events…the most mundane things that we, as women, do everyday become joyful and sometimes full of adventure. And I also think we become more aware of blessings when we are full of joy. I know we have blessings all around us, but unless we are in tune with our Lord, we don’t always recognize them!

Ways that we can build our happiness and help other women…FELLOWSHIP!!! Wholesome, fun, uplifting fellowship. Don’t we always tell our kids “you are the friends you keep”? Shouldn’t we follow that mantra? When we fellowship in an uplifting, positive, joyful way, we are also teaching those around us, our friends, how to do that as well. When our friends know our trials and struggles, but see us encouraging others and lifting them up, then that gives them hope that they can also have joy in their lives, no matter what is going on around them.

  1. Name one person that impacted your life?  How and why?

Besides my mom – that’s a good question!! I think all our friends impact our life…whether in a good way or a bad way.

I knew a wonderful lady, (it’s been a few years now), who was on her second marriage. She had a daughter, her hubby had twin girls, and they had a son together. She raised the kids while he worked. His job didn’t provide much, but enough to see their needs met. This woman made an impact on me, because no matter how little she had, she was always meeting the needs of others with her time, talents, or whatever little she could spare…AND SHE WAS ALWAYS JOYFUL!!! I will always remember her joyful attitude and helpful spirit…always ready to serve and meet a need. Am I like that? I hope so. But I know I’m not. I fall short time and time again.

As sisters, we are very supportive of each oher. I have one sister in particular who impacts my life everyday. She is my confidante, my ‘please talk me off the ledge today’ sister, my ‘what should I do here and I really want to be mad and scream at this person’ sister. She is a strong believer. She has strong, solid convictions. She is joyful. She is clear-headed. She helps me sort through the muck. I’d have a tougher time getting through life without her and the wise counsel she provides. Again…God works through others.

  1. Tell me about a challenging time in your life – how did you overcome it?  What did you learn?  Mistakes that impacted your life?

When isn’t life challenging? Minute by minute sometimes. Challenging when you find out your teenager is smoking on the stoop outside a business downtown when you didn’t even know they smoked. Challenging when your teenager and their friend lie about getting someone to buy alcohol for them because they are underage. Challenging when your teenager catches their special friend cheating on them and has overwhelming struggles because of it. Challenges?…everyday is a challenge in this life.

I think the hardest challenge that has ever come my way is when my Mom died. My mom. Living next door to me. Being my role model. Keeping me accountable. Teaching me what ‘family’ means. Loving me unconditionally.

That year, we learned in mid-March that she had brain cancer. She went home to be with the Lord on April 20. We had very little time to process. She was the Matriarch of this wonderful group that we called family. How would our future be without her? In her absence, I would be the Family Matriarch. I didn’t want to be. I needed HER to be. Our family banded together and became an invincible force. We rallied around her. Fiercely.

The last week of her life, all her daughters lived at her house with her, watching her slowly slip away. We took care of our dad. We supported each other. We received visitors and shared memories, both touching and funny. Our cousin flew in from Colorado to be with us. An Aunt flew in to help us. All the while, our husbands unselfishly  took care of our families so we could be where we were needed most.

Our mom passed away at her home, on a Sunday afternoon, with ALL the family encircling her hospital bed in the living room. It was as though she wanted Dad and us four girls to have all the love and support possible so she could let go…

How did I overcome it? I don’t think you overcome that. However, all four of us girls felt God’s presence every step of the way. He held us up. We held each other up. We loved and were there for our dad. And God’s people were there for us. Sometimes it takes a village, I firmly believe that.

People being there for each other, because God is there for us. That’s the lesson I learned. After mom passed away that day, I think each of us breathed a sigh of relief. Except probably for our dad. I think each of us just wanted to be with our families, sleep in our own beds, and pretend all this never happened. But Dad faced an empty house.

The mistakes I made? Well, for starters, I focused on myself more than my Dad. I dreaded him coming down to my house (I could hear him coming down the path on his lawnmower, and I just really didn’t want to see him). Ugh. So not fair to my Dad. How awful of me to be grumpy when he came down. How awful of me to see how lonely he was and not to care. Another mistake…not taking care of my family like I should have. Grumpy with my husband. Not fixing supper…for more nights in a row than I’d like to admit. For sitting on the couch curled up in a ball watching every episode of Law and Order that was on TV…I was a horrible, miserable person and my husband finally told me I needed to get help. Grief is sucky.

  1. What gives your life meaning and how do you keep that focus?

God gives my life meaning. I mean, after all, He gave me everything that I have. I wish I could tell you I am in the Word daily and have a consistent time of meditating on the Word. I don’t. I need to do better.  I keep focus by trying to see outside myself and being around others as much as possible. Trying to find what God would have me see everyday. Paying attention.  Helping others. Doing fun things with friends. Hosting a Small Group for our friends after church. Going to grandkids’ school programs and sports events. Staying active. Surrounding myself with strong believers who lift me up on a daily basis. Focus is hard to keep. Just saying.

  1. What personal prisons have you built out of fear that you fight on a daily basis?  How do you keep that from hindering your focus?

Personal prisons. That’s interesting. I think probably self-image is my biggest personal prison. I wish I were more attractive. (I always think I am until I go by a mirror.) I wish I could lose weight. I do well when I try a good eating plan, or to be more active like walking or something. But it all seems to be short lived. Then I tell myself that I KNEW I couldn’t do it. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t think much else bothers me! I’m not afraid to try new things. It doesn’t really bother me to talk to people.

I don’t think these things hinder my focus. I just push them out of my mind and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I know God doesn’t make junk. I don’t feel like junk. Until I see myself in a mirror…oh well. And I try to stay away from clothes shopping as much as possible!

  1. How do you know when to continue holding on versus letting go?  This could be in relation to past things or current things.

Boy, what a hard question. Holding on v. letting go. I think we are each fearfully and wonderfully made. And uniquely US. While we may have similar interests and desires, I think I am ME and you are YOU. Relationships are tricky. Friends should be respected and honored. But I also think they should earn that. Being friends with someone should happen because of WHO we are, and not who we think they WANT us to be. What do we tell our kids? Be yourself. If someone is supposed to be in your life, they will like you for who you are. We are supposed to be a reflection of Christ. The right people will be drawn to us based on that. When we continue to be who we are in CHRIST, He will take care of those we are to let go of. He will let us know who we should hang on to and when to keep our friendship going. People change. We change. Our friends change. Sometimes the common ground we share with others changes for one and not the other. God brings people into our lives for a reason, and sometimes, when that reason no longer exists, the friendship changes and sometimes becomes non-existent. We need to be OK with that. When we put ourselves in God’s Hands, He will ALWAYS do what’s best for us.

  1. How and where do you find inspiration?  What creative outlets do you encourage your own inspiration?

Our inspiration SHOULD come from God’s Word. I am not as consistent as I would like to be in God’s Word. God speaks to us through His Word. His still, small voice cannot be heard over the loud chaos of life that we tend to let take over. Staying in His Word on a regular basis helps us to hear Him.

Now, if you are talking CRAFT inspiration, let me tell you!!! I LOVE Pinterest! I love crafting videos. I love seeing what my friends make. I LOVE going to craft fairs! You name it…if it is a CRAFT project….I have looked at it, dreamed about it, poured over it, or pinned it!!!

  1. Define success versus happiness in your own words.

Success is living your life the way God intended it. Am I good at that? Not even remotely. Do I try? Yes. Every minute of every day. Do I fail? Absolutely. This very thing is what the Gospel is about. We are broken. We cannot do anything in our own strength. Christ died on the cross so we could live. Successfully. In Him. I think happiness is a momentary feeling that depends on what is happening around you.

  1. What are your favorite 3 books?  Why?

I used to read all the time. Now – it puts me to sleep!!! Ha ha. I love the books by Margaret T. Jensen. ‘First We Have Coffee’. It’s an easy read, and very inspiring. Shows the human struggle in the journey to be Christ-like. But it also shows the triumph of staying strong and following Christ’s lead.

I also like Frank Peretti’s books. ‘This Present Darkness’. ‘Piercing the Darkness’.Stories about small town life and the spirits and demons around us. Gives a very clear picture of the spiritual warfare around us. Very easy read.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

My husband would tell you his favorite quote is “Try not. Do, or do not.” His second favorite quote to young men about to be married is “Let the Wookie win’. I like that last one…it has served him well in our 40 years (today!) of marriage.

I don’t know that I have a FAVORITE quote…I know I say “You won’t know until you try’, and ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ a lot! My mom would always tell us ‘it builds character’ whenever we thought something would be too hard to do or we were afraid to do something. I guess that’s why my sisters and I are such characters!!!! So we tell each other that all the time.

Again, thank you Terri for agreeing to share your Pearls of Wisdom!  Thank you for allowing us to step into your life and learn how to embrace beauty in our imperfections.

What do you think?