Today it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to one of my very best friends, Manda.
Dave and I met Manda and her husband Aaron back in 2005 when we first joined our Sunday School class. None of us had kids and we spent lots of time chit chatting and throwing baby showers :)
In the Spring of 2008 we both joined a Tuesday night Bible Study and our friendship grew deeper as a group of girls bonded over our struggles and triumphs as moms, wives and daughters of Christ. We've laughed until we cried and cried until we laughed. We've shared EVERYTHING! hahaha
I knew that Manda had had cancer as a child, but that it had been in remission for years and years. In 2009 Manda gave birth to Aiden and found out that her cancer was back. Only two weeks after having her son, Manda made the brave choice to have one of her legs amputated in order to completely remove the cancer from her body.
As Manda underwent chemotherapy, radiation and rehabilitation I was nothing less than AMAZED at her strength, resilience and overwhelming faith. She is joyful, confident and STRONG. As a group we've prayed for her scans, prayed for her family and praised God for the miracles in Manda's life. We SHRIEKED when we found out she was pregnant for the second time and SQUEALED when we found out she was having a girl :)
About three weeks ago we found out that she had a possible "spot" on her spine and I literally felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. She had already beat this twice and there was no possible way it could be back. As we gathered in her front yard the night before her testing and prayed over and for her we cried, hugged and spoke confidently that it was some sort of "nothing". As it turns out, it's a really big something and Manda is now in a fight for her life for a third time.
The past few weeks have been heartbreaking and disappointing as she has found out more details about the road ahead for her and her family. Two Fridays ago, Narci took Manda's family pictures and our group of girlfriends decided to surprise her at the end of the shoot for a little shoot of our own.
We wanted these pictures to serve as a tangible reminder of our solidarity and support and to bring her some joy and fun memories in the weeks and months ahead. We've taken on the role as Manda's cheerleaders - cheering her on, lifting her up and encouraging her. When every turn reveals another disappointment or hurdle she has to overcome, we want her to know that she's not in this battle alone.
Words can not express how blessed I am to have these amazing women in my life and seeing them rally around Manda instantaneously (seriously - EVERY need is taken care of within about 13 minutes of hearing the news) has legitimized the time and energy I have invested into these lifelong friendships.
The session was over when we decided to pray over Manda... praying for strength, peace and comfort. For wisdom for her doctors, fortitude for her husband and "normalcy" for her kids.
We thanked God for Manda's testimony and praised Him for the incredible things He has done in her life and will continue to do.
Manda's treatments will begin this week - and if you would - please LIKE the Manda Strong page on Facebook to stay updated on the most recent prayer requests, needs and fundraisers. Leave a comment and let her and her family know that you're praying.
"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." - Matthew 18:20
We had an INCREDIBLE design created just for Manda and t-shirts with the verse will be available for purchase starting on Wednesday. All proceeds will go directly to Manda, Aaron, Aiden and Miley. I'll be posting the link here on my blog and it will also be on the Manda Strong Facebook Page.
O, God, in our hearts, we lift up Manda as she faces the fear of the unknown today.
We join our prayers with the prayers of all who love her.
May she receive strength from knowing that many are standing before the throne of heaven on her behalf.
Give her renewed comfort, hope and courage for today and whatever the days ahead may bring.
May the knowledge of your love and ours give her peace and hope.
Guide the minds, the hands and the hearts of those professionals who are entrusted with her care.
May she find comfort in knowing that our prayers are linked with hers.
We praise You, O Lord, in all and for all of our moments.
Help us to trust in your sovereignty in all that we do not see, or understand, or know.