Monday, February 27, 2017

#mandastrong

This is the post I was never supposed to have to write.   It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Two kids weren't supposed to be left without a mom.  A husband wasn't supposed to be left without a wife.  Parents weren't supposed to lose their child.  Fight Club (our self-professed Girl Gang of awesome) wasn't supposed to lose a member.

What was supposed to happen was that we all rallied, prayed and Manda got better and lived a long and happy life.  If we stuck through it long enough she'd come out on the other side.  Scathed? Sure.  But she'd come out of it with an incredible addition to her testimony.  We'd shout praises, she'd "go tell it on the mountain" and we'd carry on as normal.  

Friends, that's not what happened - and I'm wrecked.  Our sweet, loyal, loving, kind, STRONG Manda has lived her last moments here on earth and the only thing that's giving me any peace is knowing that she's free from pain, suffering and the chains that bound her and her body here on earth.  And while I know that she's living fully restored in Heaven, those of us left behind are shattered. 

I've been reading "When God Doesn't Fix It" and the author references Psalm 43:3...

"Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live."

... and the great news that it provides.  "The psalmist is saying that God's presence isn't something we have to work for.  We don't have to seek it, search for it, or earn it.  Instead, God sends his light to us and all we have to do is follow it back to him.  When I am limp and lifeless and can barely speak, my simple prayer is, "Lead me".  And when I ask, God is faithful to usher me into his presence.  In my weakest moments, he brings his truths to mind, his light to my dark and weary soul, and care and refreshment to my worn-out body."

When things look dark God isn't gone... this is when His light has a chance to shine the brightest.

God's light has poured out of Manda from the moment I met her (over 10 years ago, before either of us had kids and before her second diagnosis).  Through every trial, every disruption, every setback and bump in the road she radiated the love and joy found in her relationship with Christ and I find myself going back to Manda's own words from this post she wrote for me...
God is Ever Present
When the dark and devastating trials came, initially feeling God’s presence was difficult for me. I turned to His word and dug deeply into his wisdom and comfort. The words I found there became my rock in the storm as well as my strength for the day. I used hymns and songs of praise as a channel for hearing God’s voice, as well as lifting my voice and feelings to Him and the Lord sent special friends to minister to me through meals, groceries, house cleaning, monetary support and lots and lots of prayers. As terrible as the time was, it was also filled with irrefutable evidence of the presence and grace of God. I now have a certainty that whatever the outcome, the Lord will be with me and His strength will be enough. Isaiah 41:13 says “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, for I am with you.”

So, as the next chapter of Manda's story unfolds - and really the next chapter in mine as well - my prayer is that though it's going to be a dark time - that God's light is able to shine brightly, boldly and powerfully.  That those who had the privilege of knowing and loving our Manda up close and those who fell in love with her strength and courage through her story can just pray "lead me" and we can find ourselves in His presence.  Because that's where Manda is.


PS - I won't be blogging this week so Show and Tell Tuesday will be put on hold until further notice and there won't be Friday Favorites this week.  Details on how you can support her family will be coming in the next several days.

63 comments:

  1. Praying. Praying so hard for all of you. May God's love envelop you and your family.

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  2. I'm so so sorry for your loss. Manda sounds like an incredible woman who touched so many lives. You will be in my prayers <3

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  3. It wasn't supposed to have been like this. Love you, Andrea. xo

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  4. Beautiful words written about such a beautiful friend. Love you, Andrea!

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  5. So, so sorry for your loss of your beautiful friend.

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  6. My heart goes out to all of you girls as you mourn your dear friend's passing. I can't even fathom this feeling of loss you have. But our hope is in Him, and she is now perfect and strong again. Sending you prayers from Michigan!

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  7. "It wasn't supposed to be like this." Such painful words. But I kept thinking about her Heavenly reception last night. My goodness there had to be such a party. Jesus had to be so very proud of our Manda. And thank God we get to see her again as well! Love you!

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  8. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet friend! I am so sorry for your loss...for everyone's loss. Prayers from GA to for all of you.

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  9. Oh I'm so sorry for your loss! You all & Manda's family are being covered in prayers.

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  10. Prayers from GA!
    So Sorry for your loss!

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  11. So incredibly sorry to hear about Manda. She seemed like an amazing person.

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  12. What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend Manda. I have followed her story and prayed along side you girls. Praying that all you girls get time to spend together loving, hugging and remember your beautiful friend. Also, that the Lord guides you on how to be light and God's love extended to her precious family. What a sad sad day, but what a timely book you are reading sounds like a very good one!

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  13. Beautiful beautiful words. You girls love hard just the way IS IS supposed to be. I'm praying for you. I've watched her videos. She is amazing. Keeping fighting the good fight. I wish I could hug all you girls.

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  14. My heart breaks for her family and friends. Praying for all of you and her precious children.

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  15. So sorry for your loss.. my heart breaks for her kids.. she should be here to take care of them, see them grow up, finish college, get married have kids etc. From experience, I can say that losing your mom is like no other loss...
    Please make sure to stay close to those kids, tell them stories about their mom, be there when she would have been... they will need you

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  16. My heart hurts so much for her family and y'all!!! Praying and praying!!!

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  17. Don't worry, it's all part of God's plan xo

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  18. Don't worry, it's part of God's plan xo

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    1. I'm going to have to respectfully agree to disagree. We live in a fallen, broken world full of ugly, horrible things like cancer which were never part of God's "plan". I don't believe for one second that it was part of his "plan" for a mother, daughter, wife, friend to die so young. I believe that God definitely knew that it was going to happen, but not that it was part of any big "plan". Can good come from this? Of course. Can we see Him through it all? Yes. But was he up there orchestrating her getting married, having kids, etc. and then dying like this? No.

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    2. Andrea, thank you for this response. You took it straight from my own mind. I too have lost a best friend at an untimely time. And there's not one second that I have believed that God planned it. But He does work all things for our good. So there will be good. Through the hurt and the pain, God will shine. Just as He did through sweet Manda. We are praying for you!

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    3. 😘I just love you sweet Andrea. Well said.

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    4. It is interesting, and at times disheartening, the responses people give when someone has died. I hate the platitudes, such as the one above, or "God needed another angel". They really don't help those that are grieving hard. When my nephew died at the age of 20, after spending 7 months in Afghanistan unscathed only to come back home and fall at the Grand Canyon (he slipped, he did not jump), the things family/friends told my sister were truly atrocious. "He was supposed to die in war, but God was merciful and let him die on US soil so you could get his body back quicker" was probably the worst one. The only thing that should be said is "I'm so sorry" and then help them. Don't ask what they need (they won't be able to articulate what they need, every day tasks will seem overwhelming), just do something...grocery shopping, babysitting, taking animals to the kennel, making food (please remember when doing this to bring food in disposable containers), making difficult phone calls about funeral arrangements, having to fill out death certificate information, etc... Helping without being asked and offering a shoulder to cry on is really all that can be done.

      So very sorry about beautiful Manda. She was such a fighter and her words so eloquent and heartfelt on your blog. Special prayers for her husband and children, and an extra one for her parents. No parent should have to bury their child. That's why there is no name for a parent who loses a child.

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  19. Each of your friends posts has brought me to tears, yours included because it's evident that you all love Jesus deeply and you love one abother out of the abundance of the Lord. Although no words but Gods can bring comfort in this time, I just wanted you to know I am praying for you all and her sweet family. Xoxo Erin

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  20. Andrea, I'm so, so sorry for your loss and the missing piece in your tribe right now. Your words and especially Manda's words moved me to tears. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful, inspiring tribute. Lifting up Manda's family and friends today. ❤❤

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  21. Through the nasty cancer, Mandarin chose to allow God to use her & shine through her. It is very obvious through each of your post!
    Prayers for the family as they pick up the pieces!
    So very sorry!

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  22. So very sorry, Andrea. Prayers for her family and for your Girl Gang of Awesome (love that!).

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  23. So so sorry for your immense loss. Thank you Jesus for the peace that can only come from You! Praying for you all and especially Manda's sweet family.

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  24. So perfectly summed up and incredibly beautiful. Manda will be dearly missed. I know she is dancing on streets of gold.

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  25. Such a nice tribute to your friend. Praying for her sweet family and all of you, her dear friends.

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  26. So sorry for the loss that so many have suffered with losing this sweet soul. Praying for her family and friends. May she rest high on that mountain!

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  27. I am so sorry for your loss, but rejoicing that Manda is whole in heaven with her savior! Praying for her family & friends!

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  28. I'm so sorry for your loss. We will pray for your community. We said goodbye yesterday to an amazing man who left behind his wife and 4 children. We said the same thing, it wasn't supposed to be like this. Just a year ago we were celebrating his remission and that he'd won his fight. It's in these moments that we must lean into God even when we are unable to understand how this happened. The faith that you and your friends have will be such a light to the family and to each other during this time. Sending hugs to each of you.

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  29. Andrea, I never comment, but I love reading your blog in car line everyday. I posted the same thing on Erika’s blog but wanted you to know I am so sorry for your loss. Last May, one of our “girls” lost her husband to cancer and it shook us all to the core. I’ve experienced death with family and other friends, but seeing one of your own , that is so young is so hard. It radically changed my faith and has made me truly understand the scripture “but if not, he is still good!” I have seen God’s goodness even in the dark times. The past year, my husband and I have really changed our priorities. So many things in life do not matter! Love your husband more, love your kids more, and share Jesus! Time is so precious. Praying for all of your hearts during this time!

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  30. Sending lots of prayers to her family and friends. The presence of God was truly within her and you all are testifying that so well.

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  31. I left this comment on Shay's wall, but I wanted to leave it for you as well. I lost my sister when she was just 17, and I know that God and the people He sent to rally around my family and me during that time (and still) is what got and gets us through with any shred of sanity, so know that my prayers are for you all, same as for Manda's family.

    Songs speak to me, and the one that keeps coming to mind is Ryan Stevenson's "Eye of the Storm". If songs help comfort you, too, I hope this one brings you peace.

    I didn't know Manda, but her story has impacted me and so many others, and I hope you can all take comfort in knowing that she had a fight well fought, a life well lived, and a testimony turned legacy that will bring God glory far beyond her years on earth. May all of our lives point to God so strongly, no matter what the circumstance! I praise God today for a sister in Christ who I didn't know on earth, but who, one day in Heaven, I will get to tell that she made a difference. My prayers are with all of you hurting so acutely this morning as you move into a new chapter in life. Though the years were short, may her life always continue to bless yours.

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  32. I'm so sorry Andrea. This broke my heart when I saw the news yesterday and I have been praying for her family and all of you girls all weekend. This was a beautiful tribute to your friend. You are so right - in those moments that we feel like we cannot find God, He is right there beside us in the trenches. Praying for peace and comfort for you and all of her family and friends. Xoxo.

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  33. I'm so very sorry for your loss. I've followed Manda's story through social media and my prayers are with her family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time. Beautiful post. You are a great person and friend.

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  34. I am so sorry for your loss. I am praying for you and her family and friends.

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  35. Loved this, Andrea. I was always in awe of Manda. I wish I had gotten to know her better when she was here. Praying for all you Fight Club girls as well as her family. Big hugs.

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  36. My heart is hurting for all. Prayers of comfort being said.

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  37. My heart just breaks for you all and her family. I lost a very close friend a year ago very unexpectedly and it was absolutely devastating. It still is. I'm on my knees for you today and for her family.

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  38. Praying that God grants you all the peace that passes all understanding! Hugs!

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  39. Oh Andrea, I'm so sorry sweet girl for you and your fiesta gang. I've watched y'all rally around Amanda, loving, supporting, fighting, and praying for her. You will miss her, I know I lost a friend to cancer about 18 months ago and so often think of things I want to share with her. It's hard for those left behind. I'm so thrilled you girls all have each other though. That's a blessing in itself. I'm happy you are taking a break and giving yourself time to grieve. I'm praying for all of you and her entire family❤

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  40. My heart is broken for all of you. Prayers for you and for all who loved her.

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  41. So sorry for your loss!! Sending love & prayers! God Bless!❤

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  42. Andrea, I am so sorry for the loss that you, your family and friends, and Manda's family is experiencing right now. It has been a remarkable thing to watch as you have rallied around Manda and her family. There are truly no words that can make things different, but a certain hymn in my church's hymn book came to mind as I read your post this morning. I pray that it might bring your some ounce of peace as you grieve at this time.

    Each life that touches ours for good
    Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
    Thou sendest blessings from above
    Thru words and deeds of those who love.

    What greater gift dost thou bestow,
    What greater goodness can we know
    Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
    Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.

    When such a friend from us departs,
    We hold forever in our hearts
    A sweet and hallowed memory,
    Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.

    For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
    Devotion to the Savior's name,
    Who bless our days with peace and love,
    We praise thy goodness, Lord, above.

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    1. That is such a beautiful hymn, Skyler. Beautiful for this season. Thank you for sharing this.

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  43. I'm so very sorry to hear about your beautiful friend, Manda. I cannot understand this horrible disease or why the best-of-the-best leave us too soon. Thankful that Manda is with Jesus and she is whole now. Praying for you, your friends, and especially Aaron, Aiden, and Miley. XO.

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  44. Beautiful post Andrea! I know Manda wouldn't want all the attention but I love reading all of these loving posts and memories in her honor. Her legacy will live and continue to touch lives in ways we can't even fathom. But yes, it wasn't suppose to be this way! It's hard! So very hard.

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  45. This song has brought me comfort lately -- as I've been enduring my own storm. I pray it brings you comfort.

    https://youtu.be/B6fA35Ved-Y

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  46. I am so very sorry to hear this. Praying for Manda's family and all of her friends.

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  47. OH my goodness, I am so sad to read this news. Many thoughts and prayers for Manda and her family and friends and this truly difficult time.

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  48. Many hugs and prayers for y'all <3

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  49. So sorry for your loss Andrea. Will be praying for her sweet family and the rest of the Fight Club. It is not easy to lose someone who seemed so full of life in every way.

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  50. I'm so sorry to hear this...praying for you all. May you feel God's peace and comfort during this sad, sad time.

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  51. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend-I never met Manda in person but words can express so much. Your words about Manda told a story of a Great Mama, Wife and Friend. I somehow came across your blog, and then Shay's, Erica's, and Sheaffer's and your stories about Manda and friendship were inspiring. Love is what I heard in your stories of friendship, and love is what remains now. God Bless Manda, her family, and friends.

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  52. Just so heart just so heartbreaking. Hugs to you all...

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  53. I'm so very sorry to hear of Manda's passing. I kept her in my prayers for healing, for a a miracle, but I guess God wanted to give the ultimate miracle of taking her home to be with him. Last week I had it layer on my heart to pray for you, Shay and Manda. I didn't know what to pray for exactly, but I did pray for God to be with you all., and I pray that niw for you, for all of her loved ones, that he would comfort you all and give you peace and joy in this very sad time. I know you will see her again and that is an amazing gift p, but I also know after long both my parents in my early 20's how hard it is to be without someone who is so dear to you, to see them, to visit them, to spend time together. I loved the friendship that you had with her and the way your group really banded together to pray for her, support her and lift her up. You have shown her Christ, and she has shown you Christ. What an incredible gift of life, linked as sisters in Christ. I pray for you all and my heart is very broken and sad for you.
    Much love and hugs from one sister in Christ to another in Christ. Big hugs from Australia xo

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  54. Oh this is heartbreaking, I'm so sorry. Prayers for all those whose lives she touched so deeply. Grateful for the hope we have in Christ. Hugs to you all.

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  55. Sending love and prayers to all that lost such a beautiful woman. <3

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  56. This wasn't supposed to happen are the words I said when my brother died without warning... I understand and feel your sorrow and pain. I'm so sorry for your loss and will pray for all you girls, Manda's children and husband and all who lost a wonderful friend.

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