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.