Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Leading Ladies

Ok, so I like this… Thanks Penny Lane Designs for helping me think of a continuing theme to blog about. I like blogging, but usually need a pretty good theme (or book) to keep me blogging on a regular basis. (Oh, yes. And the time to blog!)

So, in continuation of What I’m Thankful For, I am blogging about 2 leading ladies in my life.

My first Leading Lady is my Grandma Gloria. It’s hard to put her in to words. She is crazy, fun-loving, compassionate, strong-willed, and silly (Yes, silly. She used to get on the floor and leg-wrestle with me!). When I was younger, I thought of her almost like a guardian angel. She tried to protect us grandkids from a lot of unnecessary things, and often she succeeded. The things that she wasn’t able to protect us from are the things that have made us stronger and more able to relate to those who have been through the same things. But, my grandma is one of those extra-special people in my life that I have seriously asked God to let her live forever. My mom was the only girl with three brothers, and I was the only girl with two brothers. So, my mom, grandma, and I were the “girls” in the family. The Three Generations. Now, with my mom gone, I feel like my grandma is such a part of her too, and we have this special bond because we have those memories of my mom and her life. We both carry the Toni-genes and are so close because of it. I can call my grandma and tell her anything, and she always has the right words to say - I can't explain it, but I guess it's just grandma-wisdom. I can’t imagine not having her and I am so thankful for her love. She has been through so, so much, and yet she is still the strongest, most loving, witty person that I know!

Leading Lady #2…. Sundy (Mana) Simmons. I met Sundy and her husband, Mike, when I was 12. (The picture below is the first pic of us together - I was 12 and shy and dorky - and barely knew Sundy). At the time I first met them, they were my youth pastors at a new church that my mom and I were attending. Over the course of 3 years – God would take our relationship to a level that we never would have imagined, or that any “man” would have been able to orchestrate. Sundy was one of my mom’s prayer warriors while she was battling cancer. Not only was she a spiritual warrior for my mom, but I know that many times, she was a warrior for me. At the age of 15, I was often confused, and immature, about the way I handled my mom’s sickness. You don’t receive a manual at birth called, “Read This When you’re 15 and Your Mom is Diagnosed with Cancer”, so many times, I reacted in the way that any typical 15 year old would; selfishly and stupid. During all this, Sundy was there for me – praying for me, believing with me for my mom’s healing, praying that mine and my mom’s relationship would grow during this time instead of dissipate. For several months my mom was in and out of the hospital, and I stayed with Mike and Sundy during this time. While my mom’s time in the hospital or Hospice became longer and longer, I found that more of my clothes and personal items ended up at Mike and Sundy’s house. Finally, there was a point where it became evident that this was not just a hospitable, “we’ll take care of Shanen while her mom’s in the hospital” type action. When you go through such an agonizing experience with people you care about and are so deeply, spiritually invested, it can only bring you closer. I mean, Mike and Sundy were the 2 people who KNEW and FELT my pain in a unique way. They drove me home from Hospice in Columbus every night while I laid in the backseat crying because my mom was dying! They saw me question God’s goodness and rebel against my authorities.

Finally, my mom was at a point where she felt like God was leading her to find a place for me to live if she passed away. She still believed for a healing, but also felt it would be diligent of her to find a place for me if she were to pass. At the same time, God had spoken to Mike and Sundy’s heart and they knew that I had already become a part of their family. Long story short, there was a phone call made, and the words weren’t even there to explain what either party was asking for – it was just the Holy Spirit and three people walking in obedience and being blessed with indescribable peace. My mom’s desire was that I would become a part of someone’s family since my brothers were both grown and had moved away. I can’t even tell you how true that is today (but their family is for another blog!) So, Sundy has been my “mana” (not manna), now for over 13 years. God has done a beautiful work in our relationship and I am so thankful for that. Most of all, I am so thankful that Sundy opened her house to a 15 year old – at first out of love for a teenager in her youth group, but then opened her family to me, out of love for her new daughter.

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penny lane designs said...

And who would have ever thought a little blog contest could inspire a whole blog topic? Thanks, Shanny- love you! Being away from you makes me realize how much I miss you and Erin. :(

Dreamer said...

I know - I miss you too. :(

We need to hang out soon.