Years ago, when Jonathan and I met at First Baptist Greenbrier, we started a bible study that another couple at our church, Tom and Stephanie McMinn, were hosting in their home. To be honest with you, I can't remember what study we did, but I vividly remember how much Jonathan and I admired their marriage, their faith and their love of us. We became instant friends although they were just a bit older than us and they really took us under their wing and mentored us in the beginning stages of our marriage. Soon after we married in 1997, Stephanie was diagnosed with breast cancer and the journey of a lifetime began. Though they moved away from Greenbrier, we have always kept in contact with them over the years via email.
Recently, Stephanie set up a caringbridge site because she was having issues with her emails being reached by the hundreds (if not thousands) of people that have followed her story. Today, I knew it was time to share it with you. Please lift this family up in prayer daily if you can.
I wanted to share one excerpt from her site that had me in tears at my computer. It makes me realize once again how fragile this life is and also, how much our DADDY in heaven loves us. It also shows us what an amazing testimony Stephanie is.....
As you read this, keep in mind that her daughter Molly is only a year older than my Anna.
TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2007 08:51 PM, CDT
Molly and I had a really special 'teachable moment' this week. I have struggled for years in knowing how to prepare a child for one's own death. God is so good! He is faithful. I have a HUGE notebook with copies of all my emails from the beginning of my journey. It begins with a letter to Molly explaining that when she feels she is old enough and ready to take the journey, it's there for her to do so. (I completed a Mother's Keepsake book for her telling her about my childhood and I have numerous scrapbooks with pictures galore with journalling around the pictures.) In time, she probably WILL forgot exactly what I look like, and what my voice sounds like. That's only human. And she's so young. That will be okay. I've just wanted to leave her things so that she can go back through and have an identity with me and hopefully answer some questions. My greatest fear is not that she won't remember me. What worries me the most and just burdens me so, is that my death will effect her relationship with Jesus. I don't want her to question or be so confused why her momma was taken from her at such an early age. I don't want her to wander through life and be looking for answers that she just can't accept. Sure there are questions and there aren't answers. They have to be accepted by faith. It's okay that's she's sad, mad, angry as a hornet, confused, etc. But, I just pray she can work through it and trust Jesus' love for her and that He loves me too....so much that he died for us. I look for moments. I have to. This is our life. Over the last few years Molly and I stop on occasion at a church cemetery we pass on our route to school. We like to look and figure out how old the people were when the died (good math lesson, too) and see some that died in the 1800's where not very old adults and some, sadly, were even children. Some families are hard to figure out. We try and figure out where one wife may have died, and was buried and then the husband must have remarried and the second wife was buried by him as well. I try to make it a non-threatening place. We talk about how everyone must eventually die. Molly asked me once if everyone of those people that died were in heaven. It gave me a great opportunity to tell her TRUTH. No, they have a choice just like you and I do to accept Jesus or not. We talk about how the bodies were buried there but that the people are not there. The Bible says there IS a heaven and a hell. One night Molly and I were home by ourselves and she asked to see my scar. She commented how glad she was that I didn't die then. My heart jumped a beat as I realized it was a teachable moment that I had to grab if I wanted to or not. I reminded her that I still have cancer and that I would probably still die without God taking the cancer away from my body. I told her that I was fighting with everything I could possibly do to stay alive and that I would never choose to leave her. I told her God could take the cancer completely from my body, but that if He didn't, it was due to a bigger plan that we may never understand. We discussed how much Jesus loves us.I explained to her that the Bible does not say that I will be able to see her after I die and that it does not say I will be her personally guardian angel protecting her, giving her strength, etc. I explained that only Jesus can give her that guidance and strength. I will be in heaven and excited after she has lived a long life and arrives so that we can spend eternity together. She told me that she would cry and cry when I die. I told I understood and that I would be the same way. I told her it will be very sad and that she may want to cry a lot and that she can for a long time afterwards if it makes her feel better. We talked about her sharing her feelings with Daddy and others. She mentioned she was concerned with Daddy getting remarried. (I think she thinks he will the next week.) I told her it will probably take a while and that I want him to and that it will be good for her to love another woman as a mother. She will need someone in her life to guide her into being a woman. She has such a wonderful Daddy. They are such buddies. They laugh and laugh together and have so much fun. They are a true joy to observe. I explained to her that her Heavenly Daddy desires that same kind of relationship from her. One that she can enjoy spending time with in prayer and Bible study. God loves her and he has set out boundaries for her in Scripture just like her Daddy has set rules and regulations for her. They both love her very much. One would do all that he could to reach her wherever she is if she needed him to comfort her. The other one will ALWAYS be there. In Christ Alone, Stephanie