My friend Heather did not particularly love doing housework and cooking, like many women. She was a hardworking mom to a beautiful 3 year old, wife to a wonderful husband who is a chef, business owner and restaurant owner, and worked full time as an accountant. She also helped others and volunteered whenever possible, served on committees and boards, and volunteered in the children's ministry. That's how I met her. Heather and her husband came to church several years ago, with a little baby. She and I immediately developed a friendship.
It was hard NOT to be friends with her- she was one of the friendliest people I've met, which is why she started serving in the First Impressions Ministry. She LOVED greeting and welcoming people to church. She became the First Impressions team leader, in charge of recruiting, training and heading up the ministry that made people feel welcomed and loved at church. Nobody got past Heather without being greeted warmly. She and her husband also served in the nursery, and basically ANYWHERE in the church that they could. My husband and I became fast friends with Heather and her husband.
She was an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life for God - full of humility and love, strong faith, and a willingness to serve God and serve others any chance she got.
Then, I got a text from her on Nov. 28, 2012 that said she couldn't come to church, because she was in the hospital for what seemed to be an infection. Two days later, on November 30, 2012, I was sitting her hospital room, crying and praying with her as she got the diagnosis: she had breast cancer. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
From the moment she got the diagnosis, she put herself in God's hands. She was brave, and had unwavering faith. She clung to God and allowed Him to give her strength through her weakness. She was courageous and beautiful, and never stopped trusting Him and His plan.
Throughout her treatments of chemo, radiation, a double mastectomy, and everything else she went through, she fixed her eyes on the Lord. I recently read through all of my text messages with Heather from the last two years, and I was amazed to see how often she was the one encouraging ME and lifting me up.
Heather went to be with her Savior on February 17, 2014, just weeks after her 32nd birthday. But her legacy is alive and strong.
Before her diagnosis, and during her fight with cancer- Heather lived a life poured out for God; always joyful, always serving, and always striving to become more like Christ- that is her legacy.
She kept a blog throughout her fight with breast cancer, and these quotes stood out to me and have inspired me....
God IS Sovereign over me. "Sovereign" is defined as "A supreme ruler; Possessing supreme or ultimate power; Lord; King" He is my King and I am here to do as sees fit. He has a purpose for my pain. He is refining me. He is molding my faith, my values and my priorities. Knowing those two things - that he promises good for me and that He has the supreme power to see it through gives me solace in this struggle.
Just like with most things in life, the memories and emotions begin to fade and I settle into my "normal" routine. I spend my days trying to catch up on the duties that I've been unable to fulfill for the last week...most of which are the never ending kind of tasks. I find myself tackling them with so much more pleasure and joy than before I got sick though. I still get tired and I have to rest more. Like I said before, I'm not 100%...but I'm at least 80%! I've changed in so many ways over the last month and a half.
Each day we wake up to is a gift from God. I've always known that, but didn't understand it the same way as I am coming to understand it. I always thought that meant that in order for it to be appreciated fully that I needed to cram as much activity into it as possible. I'm coming to understand that sometimes the gift is just the joy we get in living it. My to do list is so full right now, but the to do list can wait while I put a puzzle together with my little girl.
My job was supposed to be taking care of my husband and two year old. I am supposed to be doing the laundry and cleaning the toilets and putting new pull ups on my little girl. I will never look at the mundane tasks of life the same again. Just like everyone else, I took the ability to take care of myself and my family for granted.
An "ordinary day" is a GIFT that shouldn't be taken for granted!!!! I'm going to try to make the most of every second!
I remember Heather saying that she couldn't WAIT to get back to doing regular things, like housework and cooking and cleaning and laundry. She said she wouldn't take those ordinary tasks for granted, because each day is a gift.
How many times do we get lost in the ordinary, mundane tasks, and complain about doing housework and caring for kids, work, etc., without taking time to thank God for those things? Heather won't get to pick up after her baby girl anymore, or take her to kindergarten, or share memories with her family. But you can. You have today. Thank God for the housework and cooking and cleaning...the regular days that are a gift from God.
Heather said an ordinary day is a gift, and we should make the most of every second. Don't let one day slip away without truly LIVING.
I will always be impacted and inspired by Heather's life. She was an ordinary woman, who lived an extraordinary life for God. I am honored to have known her. Instead of complaining about daily mundane tasks, I will thank the Lord that I CAN do housework, and make the most of the time He has given me. I will love more fiercely and serve more freely. I will find joy in the gift of each new day.
I hope I can become more like Heather, because that will make me more like Christ.
And I also have to say, in honor of Heather, "ROLL TIDE."
The phrase, "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade" comes to mind...but it doesn't really work that way. We think that's the lemon is only ingredient we'll need, but then we realize that there's more to it than that...we need some sugar too. Instead it's more like when life hands you a lemon, give it to God and he'll send you back some lemonade. He will step in and fill in the holes in our life. He'll provide what we need, even when we didn't know we needed it. - Heather Ryan
Children are a Gift
kidmin leader, mother, and servant of the Lord.
These are the views of Lynne Howard, and are not necessarily the views and opinions of any church.