Saturday, October 25, 2014

OVERCOMER: Sherri Jones

I'm going to cut to the chase on this intro.  I'm so grateful for this woman for believing me.  I mean she listened to a woman who hadn't talked to me 5 years.  She took her word based on a conversation in the Clearance section of a Hallmark store.  She drove an hour to meet me.  And after listening to my story, she said "I want you".  She put her reputation on the line and put in a recommendation for me, she fought for me.  She was the answer to a prayer I had been praying.  She opened the door for me to tell my story, which started the first steps of my own "overcoming".  She is a dreamer herself, but she believes in the dreamer of dreams.  And, for that I will forever be grateful for my friend Sherri!

I challenge you to read her words...all of them.  She is a warrior. It is rare to meet a person who spends their everyday to make the life of others.  She is a rare breed and yet has a gift to breed a culture of giving of oneself for another.

  • What have you OVERCOME?   Loss
  • What was your turning point?    On September 12, 2003, I woke up with a weird feeling.  I called my cousin, Kristen on the way to work which I never did in the mornings.  It was strange.  She answered the phone hysterically crying and said she needed to call me back.  It left me wondering what was going on, but I decided to wait for her call back. I went on to work and went into my training.  You see, it was my first couple of weeks at my new job.  While sitting in the training room with no cell phone because we had to turn them off, someone came in and said “Sherri, you really need to call your mother”.  I knew it wasn’t good.  I picked up an office phone and called my mom.  She too was crying hysterically.  She said, we’ve been trying to reach you.  Kevin’s been killed in Iraq.  Well…you see, Kevin and I were cousins, but more like brother and sister.  We were 2 months apart in age and practically lived together when we were young since our moms didn’t work.  Kevin was only 34 when he was killed.  I remember breaking down and looking around at these people at work that I barely knew.  They were very kind.  They offered to drive me home, but I knew I needed to get myself together because I would need to take care of my Aunt and Mom once I arrived at my Aunt’s house.  So…off I went.  I drove from Little Rock to Benton that day and don’t remember anything about the drive.  The only thing I remember was pulling over in a church parking lot in Benton and calling my best friend and completely losing it.  Again…knowing I had to get it out of my system.  Crazy, but true.  I went into taking care of others mode for a couple of months.  I was so angry at God for taking him at a time in his life where he was really making a difference.  Kevin had a few rough teenage years, and the military really made a difference in his life.  He became a Christian and was holding Bible studies and really witnessing to others in Iraq.  I couldn’t quite understand WHY God would have taken such an active Christian off of the battlefield of Earth.  It took me several months to really grasp that Kevin had truly made an impact on so many lives…including my own.  I finally understood what it meant to give your life to tell others the story of Jesus.  It was at that point, I really started looking at my own faith and realizing that I could certainly do more.  I now teach small groups in the high school youth ministry and try to live out my faith on a daily basis.  Oh there are days when I fail, but I remember that Kevin was my biggest cheerleader while he was here and now he sits at the feet of Jesus and cheers me on daily! 
    The next reality check came in February of 2004, just 5 short months later.  My friend Lynnette had been battling breast cancer for a long time and it had metasitized.  She was only 35 years old.  She was one year older than me and had two boys that were exactly one year older than each of my girls.  Lynnette had not been doing well, and had been admitted into the hospital.  On February 20th, I received a call from another friend.  He told me that Lynnette is not doing well and she’s asked to see you.  You see, at this point I had not accepted the fact that she wasn’t doing well.  I didn’t know how to deal with her illness and I had closed myself off.  Of course that night, I scrambled around and re-arranged appointments and trotted up to the hospital to see her still thinking that everything was going to be okay.  When I arrived, there was a room full of people that night.  Her husband looked at everyone and said, let’s all go have some dinner and give Sherri some time with Lynnette.  My heart sunk.  I knew at that point it wasn’t good.  I waited until everyone left and pulled up a chair beside her bed and sat down.  Lynnette just smiled.  She had the most beautiful smile even when she felt so awful.  When Lynnette was healthy, we were lunch buddies.  She was fun, energetic and ALWAYS the life of the party anywhere we went.  We used to have the best times meeting up, eating and talking and of course solving the world’s problems in an hour.  Well…that night, it wasn’t much different.  We laughed, I cried and she told me that God had told her that it was time to come Home.  She shared with me that night a story of inspiration.  God had let her know that her boys and husband would be okay and told her not to be scared.  She was actually excited that she would be meeting Jesus soon.  She smiled more and of course I cried more…selfishly.  However, I left there that night with a gift.  She showed me that no matter what our journey, God always shows us the way and gives us the strength to get through everything.  I will never forget that night.  No one witnessed it…just she and I and God.  It was amazing.  She lost her battle with cancer two days later on February 22, 2004.  Now, fast forward 4 years later.  I would attend a ribbon cutting at the American Cancer Society.  A friend that worked at ACS caught me in the parking lot as I was leaving and said, you need to come work here.  I just laughed and explained to her that I wasn’t looking for a job.  I was happy where I was at the time.  Of course, she was persistent.  I started praying about it. God gave me the overwhelming feeling that I needed to interview and just see where it took me.  After interviewing, that feeling just kept tugging on me.  I had my Sunday School class start praying that if God wanted me there that it would be easy and I would not be able to say no.  My husband and I had just built a brand new home and leaving a job with salary plus commission just wanted smart.  Well, you guessed it, God had other plans for me.  I have now been with the American Cancer Society for over 6 years and I can’t imagine doing anything else.  I just know Lynnette is smiling and laughing that I tried to fight it at first.  This year, we are starting a brand new event in Central Arkansas…Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.  I can’t wait to pour on the PINK and proudly remember Lynnette’s smile.  I will continue this fight in her memory!
  • 5 word life mantra - Life experiences make you stronger
  • Quote you live by - “Every day is a good day, some are just better than others!”  I’m not really sure if it was his own quote or not, but I worked for Jim Pledger for a few years.  He was the Chief of Staff for then Governor Clinton and then came to work at the Director of the Arkansas State Fair where I worked as an Administrator.  He took me under his wing and mentored me for many years.  Ironically, he too passed from cancer. 

Connect with Sherri:

Twitter: @SherriJones21
Pinterest: @SherriJones21

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