Today I am thanking God for my church family. We are so blessed to see these people each week, and they truly feel like family. Today was Natalie’s birthday party. If you know me well, you know I hate crowds and parties and most things social. Especially if I have to plan it. I’m an introvert, what can I say? But I went into this with a plan and started preparations as early as possible. I was feeling very ready, but as soon as it came time I started to panic a bit. How can I herd these youngsters and keep them contained? (The answer is, you can’t) The wonderful thing is that I didn’t even have time to freak out because the other moms saw what needed to be done and jumped right in to help. It was amazing. My anxiety level came right back down, and we all just had a good time celebrating with each other. So that’s what I’m thankful for, especially today.
I started this post last night, but it was while I had the television on, so I was distracted. I scrapped it, because when you want to share an important message, “distracted” is a crappy mindset to be in. This morning I’m trying to go with “honest” and “clear minded”. Here goes…
I saw Jesus yesterday. Not literally, of course, but real enough. I hesitate to write publicly about this because I want to be respectful of others’ privacy and personal lives, but I hope she will understand the underlying desire to share the powerful message her life is speaking. Who is she? She is a dear friend from my church. Someone who I felt a connection to from the beginning, because when we met two short years ago, she was having difficulty walking, as I do many days. It looked like MS, though doctors were still working on a diagnosis at the time. After many months of waiting for more testing to be done, a diagnosis was made.
My friend has ALS. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a debilitating, incurable, fatal neurological disease. The nerves that tell her body to do the most basic and necessary functions are quickly dying. In a very short amount of time she has had to deal with loss after loss after loss. She is dependent on her husband and countless others for everything: eating, bathing, dressing, sleeping. Not only that, but she is an extrovert. Being stuck at home has to be one of the hardest changes for her. Amongst all the rest.
But rest assured, there is a positive message here. You see, I never leave her house feeling sorry for her. In fact, I always leave feeling more blessed and amazed. Not because she is a great woman, though she is amazing, but because I see something – someone – shining through her. When I see her, I see Jesus in those sparkling eyes. She is living in one of the most tragic of situations, and she still wears a smile and true light in her eyes. She is confident that this is not the end for her. She is looking forward to an eternity with her Savior. When her physical body breathes it’s last labored breath, she will be in heaven, dancing with her Jesus.
This is a woman who has devoted her life to serving Christ by mentoring others, and she hasn’t let ALS stop her. She continues to mentor others from her wheelchair using the telephone, computer, and voice commands. She still accepts visitors at her home, even though it may be uncomfortable for some to see her in her present state. Her body is dying, but her spirit is still very much alive. Of course, she has her bad days, but she lets herself have them and moves on. Every day is a gift, and she knows this with all of her heart. She chooses to life live to the fullest, every day, with all she’s got. And it may look to the human eye like that’s not much, but I know the opposite is true. She has Jesus living within her, giving her strength and peace and courage and hope. By letting Him shine through her, she is a true inspiration.
My hope here is a sort of “pay it forward” wish. I know that Christ’s strength and power is made perfect in our weakness. It’s true for my friend, and I want it to be true of me. I was dealt a crappy hand this past year, but I am determined to make the best of it. With strength I didn’t know I had, I am overcoming. I am 100% confident that that strength comes from knowing Jesus, and I want everyone to know Him too. So I suppose that’s the message. I’m not an evangelist. I’m not trying to be pushy. After all, you could have stopped reading this at any point, and you still can. But if you’ve made it this far, let me ask you this: have you met Jesus? Do you want to? I know He wants to meet you, and I would be glad to introduce you 🙂