Thursday, October 16, 2008

What I'm Thankful For... continued

Tada!! The continuation of What I'm Thankful For.

Ok, so after God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I am so very thankful for my family!! I have so much family that I can't name them all... but I want to mention 1 person in particular that I'm exceptionally thankful for. For those of you who know me, this will be of no surprise. I'm starting with Momma Toni (which is what I find myself referring to her as now that she's gone, but never when she was alive... not sure why.) Anyway - about her... She was amazing! There was a time in her life, when she was not walking with the Lord... and those are the times that I tend not to focus on too much. Instead, I choose to dwell on the happy, joyful, and loving mother that most importantly loved Jesus! (Although, she was always loving and happy, I think the true joy in her life was fulfilled in walking closely with Christ.) So - the JOYFUL, crazy-about-Jesus-Toni is who I want to remember her as, and who I long to be like. Even though she passed away 13 years ago when I was 15 - it seems like yesterday I was sitting next to her, talking with her, laughing with her. There aren't too many days that go by that I don't think of her. It's not a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling like it was when she first passed away. Instead, it's more of a slight smile and warmth that I get when a memory of her crosses my mind, or when I hear or see something that makes me think of her. I often wonder what she would be doing with her life if she were still alive. I think part of the reason I am such a stickler about being passionate about what you do in life, is because I saw my mom pass away without having fulfilled many of her dreams. She was so incredible and so creative, and I just wonder what she would have done had she had more time, resources, and faith to believe in herself. Don't get me wrong... she was a hard-worker and a strong woman of faith, but now that I'm "grown up" I often wonder what she would be now. I could see her as a model (yes, I'm bias), or a fashion designer (she loved clothes and accessories - yes, that's where I get it!), maybe an interior designer (she LOVED moving the furniture around all the time!!) Anyway, it's hard to go day-to-day and not think of someone who made such an impact on your life. I hear my friends talk about their moms, and how they call each other every day or once a week, how they went shopping with their moms, they stayed at their mom's house, etc. Yes, part of me is jealous - but not in a mean-spirited way. I'm SO glad that they have their moms, and I rejoice with them that they do. But I always think to myself, "I hope they know how blessed they are to be able to do that. I hope they cherish every single second that they have with their sweet mothers."

So, anyway, Momma Toni's faith was amazing. From the first moment she heard that she had cancer, she knew from that point, that Christ was her only hope - not just for healing, but for any hope! Through that 3-year battle, she became crazy about Jesus. I could go on and on about moments of faith that this woman displayed, but it would clog the blogger world! Let's just say that the biggest thing she instilled in me was to believe in our God for BIG things! When she first found out she had cancer, they said she had had it for 8-10 years (which would have made her 28-30 when she first got it) and they only gave her 6 months to live. She was basically covered in cancer; breast, leg, ribs, every vertebrae of her back! But you know what? She believed God for a healing. She believed, trusted, and hoped! After many months of chemotherapy and radiation, she had a check-up cat-scan and the doctors were astound to find that she had NO cancer in her body! None! They couldn't believe their eyes... they did another cat scan because they didn't believe the first one - they had NEVER seen anything like it before. The only answer for it was God! She KNEW that He had healed her completely! After about 2 years of being cancer-free, she went in for a routine check up, only to find out that the cancer was back. And in all the same places, except this time she also had a brain tumor. (Which made the experience so much different from the first, and so much worse.) So once again, she started her chemo, but continued to believe, hope, and trust God for healing. Her battle lasted for about 10 months, and then she did finally go home to be with her Jesus. But, I am confident in saying that during those 3 years (from when she found out she had cancer, to the time of her passing), she changed many lives and stretched many people to believe God for bigger things than they had ever seen. Because of this, I am changed. She has instilled in me the desire to pray for the sick and to believe God for healing. I feel so blessed, and I am so THANKFUL! Some people ask me why I think God healed her the first time she had cancer, but not the second. And, I can't speak for God - but I DO know that I had 3 more awesome, memory-filled years with my mom. She touched many more lives in 3 years with her testimony than she did with 1 year with cancer. My pastor, Matt Chandler, read a Scripture about 2 years ago (and even though I don't remember the exact sermon, this verse made me cry because it was God answering the question that so many people ask me.) He read from Hebrews 11 - the "Men and Women of Faith" chapter. Most people read the first 3/4 of that chapter and then stop. They read about all these men and women who believed God for miracles and they saw them come to pass. But, most people stop there. They don't read the last part of that chapter that talks about those who were beaten and persecuted, and never received the promise from God. This is where I pick it up:

Hebrews 11:39-40 (AMP): "And all of these, though they won divine approval by
means of their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was
promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater
in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not
come to perfection apart from us..."

When I heard these words I almost fell out of my chair! God doesn't promise a life without pain or cancer... but I felt like when I read this, that God was reminding me that my mom’s faith was not in vain. My mom did not receive the "fulfillment of what was promised" because God had ME in mind. I feel like my mom's faith was imparted to me - the promise is for ME, for my kids, for THEIR kids. How amazing is that??!

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