Several weeks ago, my dad gave me my mom's journals to read over. Each journal was filled with hundreds of pages of things she was thankful for each day. No matter how sick or how well she felt, she took time to write out just how thankful she was for people, places, and circumstances. I am beyond grateful and blessed to have been her son and continue to be inspired by her Christ-like example of faithfulness and steadfastness. On this first Mother's Day after her passing, the best way I know how to honor her is for you to know the kind of mother, wife, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, and woman that she was and to be encouraged by her incredible example in the midst of her battle with a horrible cancer. Written below are the dates and exact words from just one of her journals. I've highlighted those places that are most encouraging and helpful to me. I've only been able to type out a sliver of what she had written in those journals, but my hope is to continue filling out this document with more of her entries in the coming days and weeks.
April 23, 2014 (written soon after her stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis) God has given me such a peace about this diagnosis. I know He is with me. He has a plan and a purpose for me. Already we’ve seen so much good come from this! Thank you Jesus that we’ve been able to see this already! So many people have encouraged us with prayers, texts, cards, and visits. I am blessed beyond measure!! God is so good! I can’t begin to say how overwhelmed I am!
You are my God and I will praise you! You are my God and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 118:28-29
April 30, 2014 I am just amazed at how sweet people have been. I’ve gotten such sweet cards and phone calls. I am blessed beyond measure even with this terrible disease. Wow!
June 3, 2014 (written after second round of chemo) So grateful for effective medication! Tumor markers more than halved and my pain has been completely gone since first day of chemo. Amazing!! Hopefully, a new regimen of antiemetics will take care of these unwanted side effects. Anyway, I am comforted in the fact that God is with me. He loves me. He knows me. I am His child. He is so good! Let’s see what tomorrow holds!! It is in His hands.
June 7, 2014 Energy kind of coming and going but did manage to do a bit more today. So happy when I can do stuff. I need to be useful!! I like to be needed! I don’t like people having to do everything for me! Argh!! Ok, enough griping, here is my thankful list.
June 10, 2014 (written while at the beach) Thankful for a God who is so creative and magnificent, so grand and amazing who allows me to call Him Father, and invites us into a relationship with Him. How great is that!!
June 15, 2014 (written on Dad’s birthday) Thankful for David: wonderful friend, the best friend ever. He listens, he understands, he helps me understand things. He’s fun to be with, he makes me laugh, he holds my hand and makes me feel better. My life has been so rich because of him. He’s a wonderful father to my children. He has loved them deeply, taught them, walked alongside of them, served them, defended them. He is such a loving and passionate man toward our family. So thankful for the great influence he has had on all of us, his family. Thankful for him just being a wonderful person. He has happily and enthusiastically worked with students and alongside faculty and staff at MA for 35 years and has shared Christ with them, taught them wonderful life lessons from the way he has lived his life. He cares about people from all walks of life. He cleans, he cooks, he grocery shops, he launders, he pays the bills, there is nothing he can’t do and does everything well. I love him and am so grateful for him being husband and best friend. He is absolutely the best.
June 20, 2014 Brooke Glassford wrote a blog about us and posted some pictures she had taken. So many people have written to us some really nice and encouraging things. So amazed at people’s kindness. I want to stay kind and sweet and faithful and true to what I’ve been taught about being a Christ follower. Please Lord, let no bitter root develop in me. So thankful for the hope I have in Christ, no matter what happens, He is with me. My refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. I am extremely grateful for His presence and promises.
June 23, 2014 So grateful that God has not given me a spirit of fear. I am not afraid of the future and what may happen. I am not angry either. This is a pure miracle to me. Thankful that I am able to rest peacefully and with joy. So grateful for Christ’s presence with me.’’
July 13, 2014 Well, it’s been a rather hard week. The beach has been beautiful and the kids have had the best time. It’s been so amazing to watch them have so much fun. They laugh, giggle, and squeal. It’s great! I ended up not being able to eat, drink, and had really bad nausea. We went to the E.R. on Thursday to get some IV fluids. I felt like I was dying on Friday. Ran a 102º fever. We decided to come home. Brittany rode in the car with us and we followed Mark. It was bad. Went to the cancer center on Friday morning and started on antibiotics. Finally feeling a little better today. Thankful for knowing God is in control. He knows what I’m going through and He is with me. Such a blessing. Thankful for my family who actually makes it very clear that they love me. I love them all so very much. Thankful for hope for a better future — here or in heaven.
July 20, 2014 God is still so good and wonderful, and I am so blessed! Last week when I was so sick, the thought of dying was so peaceful and gave me amazing hope and comfort. I hate the thought of leaving David and my family/friends but so thankful death is not making me fearful or anxious. Only knowing God can do that.
July 29, 2014 Round five of chemo tomorrow. A little fearful but mainly hopeful that it will go great and be of great benefit to me. Occasional pains coming back, don’t know exactly what that means but it can’t be good. Still hoping for miracles.
August 3, 2014 So thankful for God’s peace that is beyond understanding! So thankful for the life I’ve had — full of love, peace, friendships, security in Christ, laughter, acceptance, service, so many, many blessings. So grateful for 35 years with David (married years), which has been a fulfilling, happy, blissful relationship. God has blessed me so much. So thankful!
August 7, 2014 Thankful for the hope of heaven. It creates a great calmness in me when I think of being there. Calm, joy, anticipation, and gratitude.
August 16, 2014 Had my PET and CT scans yesterday. Thankful knowing this is out of my control and that God is in control. I don’t know how things are going to turn out but I’m trusting God in this and knowing that whatever, He is with me and doing what is best and I want Him to be honored with this whole thing. Dear God, help me to have the right attitude and to bear witness to your goodness and grace.
August 18, 2014 I’m in complete remission! Amazing! No chemo for a while! So thankful!!!
August 31, 2014 Reminded again of God’s sovereignty and He is in control. So grateful for God’s presence and power in my life which he has allowed me to live in peace and have joy and love in my life.
September 16, 2014 Preparing to share my testimony for Bible study at MA on Thursday. So thankful for this opportunity to encourage the kids and give God the praise and glory due Him. Thankful that people are agreeing to pray for me. I’m scared but grateful.
September 24, 2014 God never leaves us or forsakes us. This cancer experience has brought me so much closer to Him and more and more people. Don’t want to blow my opportunities!
September 30, 2014 Appointment with Dr. Barnes. My tumor marker was even better at 11!! Wow! So encouraged today and so thankful. Rejoicing like crazy! Thankful for the things God is teaching me and showing me. This “curse of cancer” has actually turned into such a blessing. Grateful for this!
October 22, 2014 When I was on my walk today I was overcome with how wonderful the cool breeze felt on my skin, the ground under my feet, the beauty of the deep blue sky, the birds singing, the quireels darting about and I just felt so thankful for life, to still be living and walking and feeling and hearing and seeing. It was a beautiful experience and I praised the Lord for all these blessings! Thankful for the hope and peace and forgiveness and salvation we have in Jesus.
November 3, 2014 (Mom’s birthday) So thankful to be feeling so good and actually have made it to this birthday! It’s been the best one ever! Had Bible study this AM then we all went to lunch together. It was fun and I feel so loved! Sat down to write some thank you notes and was overcome with emotion! Each person who was at that party has blessed and enriched my life so much. I’ve been blessed with some pretty amazing people in my life. So grateful!
November 15, 2014 Thankful for the way a funeral causes us to pause and reflect on our own lives. Hoping my life will count for something and be useful in God’s Kingdom work. Want to be a fruitful ambassador. Father, show me the way!
November 20, 2014 Thankful for people put in my path that encourage me on my faith walk. So precious to me.
November 29, 2014 Saw a statistic today that pancreatic caner is the most lethal cancer and only 6% survive five years. Thankful that my hope, my security in in Christ. As much as I hate to leave this life. Life in heaven will be so much better! Thank you Jesus for saving me and my family! Praying for future generation to come to Jesus and follow Him.
November 30, 2014 Thankful for increased stamina and energy and strength. So glad to be able to be helpful, useful, and independent. Dread the day when somebody has to take care of me – one of my worst fears. Thankful its not yet there. But thankful I was able to go to church this AM (haven't been in a long time). Good to see friends there and encourage each other. Thankful that Jesus came to earth to show God to us. So glad to have realized this as a child–thankful for God's hand in my life.
December 1, 2014 Had PET and CT scans today. A very emotional day. Thankful for friends who texted and called to encourage me. So thankful for David who understands what I'm going through and is always there for me.
December 2, 2014 Met with doctor about scans today. I'm still in complete remission! He was amazed! So thankful, relieved, and amazed myself. Praising God for this blessing and gift. Have run into so many people lately who are friends who have cancer and have amazing stories to tell too. so thankful for their praises to God and their willingness to tell others. Lord, help me to do your will, to tell of your great love, grace, and mercy. Help me to demonstrate my love for you by loving others.
December 13, 2014 So thankful for the life God has given me. I pray that I have made somebody's life better, that I accomplish what God has for me to do, that daily I make a difference and am a blessing to someone. Help me be what I am called to be, Lord – your obedient, loving, daughter.
December 25, 2014 So thankful to be here for Christmas with the family. The kids were so much fun and sweet and excited about Christmas. So thankful that God sent Jesus into this world because He loves us and saves us. So thankful that this wonderful and amazing omnipotent God loves us and wants a relationship with us so intentionally that He allows us to call Him, Father, and He calls us His children. Amazing! Lord, help me to live my life to show my gratitude to You.
January 1, 2015 New Year! Always brings hope for a new, improved self, a closer walk with Jesus and a more productive, fruitful, Christ-centered life. I pray that I will live out my faith appropriately and that I will be a doer of the Word better than I have been, that others would see Jesus in me and be drawn to Him, that I would be more bold in conversations, more loving in relationships, more ministry and relational oriented. I want less of me and more of Jesus in my life. If this is my final year, I want it to be the best one and I want it to count for a greater purpose. Help me Lord to be obedient, faithful, and a pleasing child of Yours!! Three things I'm grateful for: 1) adoption into God's family, 2) peace of mind and spirit, 3) God's mercy, love, grace, forgiveness, redemption. Contentment, health, friends, and family.