If you are on the outside peering in, you may see the frustration amid the joy, the weariness amid the many daily activities plus sibling rivalry in full force... but there is tenderness there, too. What you cannot see and what I’m here to tell you about is the view from the other side; while you may behold the knots and loose ends, we’ve been given a glimpse of the magnificent tapestry on the other side.
A few weeks ago, my family traveled north to Morgantown for the WVU Children’s Hospital Annual Auction & Fund Raising Banquet. It was WONDERFUL, ELECTRIC, FUN and INSPIRING!! Many of the families, whose children have received treatment, or are currently being treated, were present. It did my heart so good to see these smiling children dressed up, not only enjoying a delicious banquet with scrumptious desserts, but receiving gifts and taking part in the evenings’ activities. Soon after, they filled the dance floor and their energy was contagious! I cannot remember the last time I had danced and laughed so much!
|One of the Cards of Hope, designed by Izzy, Zoe and Zavery McManaway|
Izzy was a little out of sorts and spent most of the evening on her daddy’s lap, but before the night was over, she danced to a Justin Bieber tune and asked her Uncle Will for a slow dance, too. Another highlight was the live auction and seeing the children’s artwork go to the highest bidder. They were all so proud, and rightly so, as their work had been selected for greeting cards as part of the Cards of Hope, sponsored by WVU Children’s Hospital. And what a BLESSING to meet Joe & Tara Quigley, the founders of Timmy’s Fund. Folks, if you ever want to witness first-hand the love and mercy of our risen Saviour, just make the acquaintance of these two people. Tara & Joe lost their son, Timmy, to cancer in December 2004. Their grief and sorrow was turned outward toward helping other families in similar situations, working to meet their needs financially and spiritually and their non-profit has grown by leaps and bounds through their tireless efforts. It was an honor to meet their family and by their work, I am humbled and inspired to do more, more, more!
|Izzy dancing with her daddy|
|Children dancing at the WVU Children's Hospital Auction and Banquet|
|Izzy dancing with her Uncle Will|
Another part of this brilliant tapestry involves the working of God in others’ lives through the inspiration of Izzy. Her faith, her resilience and attitude touch so many people; we’re at a loss to count them. I’ve promised, however, to endeavor to share some of these stories with you because it’s important that you know why bad things happen to good people. Mind you, I’m not seeking to give you a definitive answer on that one, as who can know the full scope of the workings of God, but for our part, for our little place on this earth, I can tell you with certainty that Izzy’s suffering is not in vain.
This comes first and foremost from Izzy’s mother, my beloved sister and friend: Izzy is going through this battle so that others may be brought to Christ.
Let me say it again: Izzy battles cancer so that other people, from marginal christians, to atheists, to very bitter hearts, may turn toward God. Our family bears witness to this over and over again. One case in point:
About two months ago my sister calls and asks if I would be willing to go with her to a prison to visit an inmate, an old friend. I was surprised, a bit apprehensive, but when she told me of her deep conviction that God wanted her to go ... how could I not go with her. And so we went.
You have to understand that this is so out of the ordinary. We are not ones involved in prison ministry or even find it comfortable to be in that type of atmosphere, indeed, I thought Jenny was going to be physically ill when we arrived in the parking lot of the prison. But she felt this was something she had to do. We prayed together and then she went in. I waited in the car and entertained my writers mind watching the variety of people going to visit incarcerated loved ones.
Over an hour later, she emerged with a smile on her face. Her countenance was calm and assured, knowing she had done the right thing. Her purpose in the visit was to tell this old friend that she was praying for him and also to make a strong request: “Please pray for Izzy; I know you have a lot of idle time and I would appreciate it if you would pray for her.”
The friend was humbled to see her, incredulous that she had wanted to see him. He had known about Izzy and was moved by Jenny’s request.. he readily agreed to pray for her. It gave purpose to his days. We didn’t realize just how much this unexpected meeting had affected him until a visit by his sister came a few weeks later. At her brother’s bidding, she came to bring gifts to Jenny’s girls and also a letter and poem, written by her brother.
His words are too personal to share in this public forum, but suffice it to say, our whole family was moved to tears at the care and love expressed there. He wrote a poem especially for Izzy that will be treasured always. A poem in which he prompts her to turn to God in all things and know she was created by God. And I was told by his sister just recently that he carries a photo of Izzy in his Bible. It is no small thing that a radiant light would be brought forth from a soul who had been darkened by fell deeds.
|Just to give you an image of that heartfelt, hand-written poem...|
Remember, friends, the thief on the cross was to be with Jesus in paradise because of his humility before Christ!
To God be the glory for all things †