I find it fitting here in this moment, and on this day of completing the 24 training hours necessary to become a Hospice Austin volunteer to share the events on Sunday, December 6, 2015 that tendered my heart, turned my face, and focused my vision on what God was calling me to do.
You see, my very best friend from childhood, Amy Shipman, was walking through, what I believe to be, one of the most vulnerable journeys a daughter or son can walk. By her side, ever faithful, Amy was with her mother, Annette Ellington as she was working her way to the other side of eternity. The process has been both slow and fast. Finally, Annette chose to go to Hospice Austin Christopher House.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning in early December and my day began at Celebration Church on the hill in Georgetown. Ps. Joe’s series This Christmas What Will You Choose? was on Joy vs. Bitterness. Toward the end of his message he shared a letter from Sandy.
Please visit celebrationchurchtx.com This Christmas What Will You Choose? Joy vs.
Bitterness series December 6, 2015 (38:30) to hear the full letter Sandy wrote.
“Dear friends and family, I have been thinking about this message for a while and I want all of you to know I have discontinued all the cancer fighting and infection fighting meds. I have discontinued that and I will be moving to Heaven soon. It’s just a matter of time when Jesus is ready to receive me. I appreciate all the acts of kindness and the love that you’ve shown me in the last several weeks. Your visits, your calls, your FaceBook messages it’s a blessing to hear so many wonderful stories and words about our relationship and the memories we’ve shared, priceless. I’m so blessed to exceed all the medical expectations for a person with this diagnoses
of pancreatic cancer..two years and four months. Please know that it has been fun and that it has been marvelous I have only been nauseous two days out of the two years, to God be the glory. But also on this journey I have had no fear. I know that it is due to the incredible care I have received from great doctors bit by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and by the love of Jesus every day. My sons have been here with me every day taking care of me as well as friends and my sister, bonding time, nothing will be left unsaid, no regrets. This is awesome. I look forward now to the next part of this journey meeting Jesus face-to-face. I have an older brother I’ve never met and two babies, and of course my parents. Countless other loved ones waiting on me in my welcoming party, how glorious. I will be there soon. I’m very excited. So when you think of me in the next few months just remember i’m dancing, I’m leaving, I’m praising God. I will see you again in glory. Love, Sandy”
Tears fell from my eyes. I couldn’t speak. I didn’t know Sandy but could only pray that I could be as courageous as she is. I felt privileged to hear her heart especially in the most intimate of times.
After service I reached out to Amy. Unexplainable it was pressing on my heart to visit Annette. Amy and I texted back and forth trying to coordinate a good time. At one point she wasn’t sure of today would be a good day or that maybe this evening would be better. Suddenly she texted back and said I could come now. Without hesitation I jumped back in the car and headed downtown to Christopher House.
Driving to the back of Christopher House I drove passed a lovely woman standing by the curb. It looked like she was waiting for someone. I parked my car and began walking toward her. I didn’t want to walk by her and not say anything.
“It’s a beautiful day today.” I said to her and she agreed.
I stopped in front of her and asked with the most sincere inflection, “How are you?”
Her name is Linda Moore and she began to share how she was here with her friend. They just barely got her to Christopher House before she passed away. She went on to explain that her friends’ sons and friends were by her side and she was waiting outside for another friend to arrive. In her sharing she mentioned her friend died of pancreatic cancer and had defeated the odds.
“May I ask your friends name?”, I asked carefully.
“Sandy”, she said. “Do you know her?”
“No,” I answered “but I feel like I do. Our Pastor just shared a letter Sandy wrote to Celebration this morning.”
Tears fall as I write this to you. I truly can’t even begin to tell you how awestruck Linda and I were and still are at the goodness of the Lord. I will let Linda share her version should she choose to.
God knew that very morning what He had planned for me and for us. He carefully and attentively orchestrated an otherwise “chance” encounter with friends of a lovely woman Pastor Joe spoke of that morning in his series Joy vs. Bitterness.
As Linda went on to greet her friend I returned to my friend and her family, Annette and Richard. We had a beautiful day. Annette had many more days with her family until she too was promoted to heaven.
This is the stirring that began in my Spirit which led to my Hospice Austin training. I take great delight in NOT asking and not knowing the Divine appointments God may ordain for my life because of it. I choose to yield to all He has for me. It will be far better than I can ask, imagine or believe.
There are no coincidences with God, only Divine appointments. He leaves me in greater awe of His perfect love, His perfect will and His perfect plan for our lives.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
(James 4:14 NIV)
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
(James 4:14 NASB)