Thursday, June 28, 2012

And I Wouldn't Have it Any Other Way

Today is my 40-somethingth birthday.  Here's how I've spent it:

A little of this:

Celebrating with cupcakes and science safety goggles:

Then I did a little LOT of this:
(I don't look that glamorous at ALL.  But I did spend about an hour+ in the van, going to and from ballet!)

And we'll wrap up with dinner and a lot LITTLE of this:

It's not a quiet retreat in the mountains.  It's not a day at the spa.  It's not lunch with girlfriends, or a getaway with my hubby.

It's life.  Lived in all its messy, busy, crazy, glory.

And this week, after all the lessons the Lord has impressed upon my heart?

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dear Will, Gracy, and Caroline. . . . .

Dear Will, Gracy, and Caroline (and Bill, too. . . . )

When I learned that your mom was perfectly healed last Saturday night, I couldn't sleep.  My tears of grief and joy mingled together, flowing down on my cheeks, and I needed some time to just sit and process.

I went to your mom's CaringBridge page and started reading.  Not her journal entries, but the "Guestbook" comments, and do you know what I found?

"You don't know me, Laura . . . . .but I'm inspired by your story."
"You don't know me, Laura. . . . . but I'm praying for you."
"You don't know me, Laura. . . . .but thank you for pointing me to Jesus."

Over. and over. and over. and over.  The same story.  People who didn't know your Mom personally, had never even met her, but who were changed by her life.

I read somewhere that your mom had over 500,000 visitors to her CaringBridge site.  Her facebook page (now that you're reading this, does Facebook even exist?!) shows over 1700 friends.  That's over half a million people. . . half a MILLION! . . . .that know her story.  That were changed by her story.

I was changed, too.

See, the week that your mom found out that she had cancer, our own family got some incredibly difficult news.  Not like yours, but news that rocked our world and shook my faith in God to its core.  Since then, I've followed your mom's story pretty closely, and known her in a "Let's-have-a-conversation-in-the-hallway-while-we're-waiting-for-ballet-to-be-over" way.  She was one of my 'friends' on facebook, and she and I often traded crazy jokes back and forth.

So I watched. And read. And listened. And learned.

Your mom got one "No" after another from God.  So did we.  And for a while, we put our lives on hold, afraid to venture out, takes risks, take chances. 

Not your mom!  She lived. . .she really, really lived!

Last February, we were visiting in the hallway together.  And there she was, in her gorgeous head scarf (she could really rock a head scarf!), asking me about possibly teaching Civics in a homeschool co-op in the fall.  "Caroline will be starting Kindergarten," she said, "and I'm thinking that would be something I'd love, that would work with my treatment schedule and her school schedule."

{side note:  Will, do you remember that day?  We talked about building a dehydrator, and science stuff, and all sorts of other fun things.  Your mom just loved it that you were always so interested in things like that. . . her face lit up as she watched us talk!}

I walked away that day, and I was never the same again.

Your mom taught me how to live.

Your mom helped me to see that Jesus was enough.  He really, really was for her. . . . . and it is my prayer, through all the heartache and anger and grief and doubt and confusion that I know you will experience as you face the coming years. . . . .  . that He will be enough for you.

With love and prayers,
Heather Henriques

This blog post is written as part of Laura's request, that we continue her legacy of letters to her children 
on how her ministry has impacted our life.

If you have been impacted by Laura's story, and would like to write a letter, you may send it to:
P.O. Box 660982
Birmingham, AL 35266

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sunday Sentiments: This Momentary Affliction

  I started this post earlier today, intending to finish it tomorrow.  The Lord had other plans for me - and other plans for Laura, too.
Laura Black is the wife and mother in the photo above.  5 years ago, when expecting her third child, the doctors found cancer.  Breast cancer.  Treatment, chemo, experimental trials, radiation, more chemo - and 5 years later, the day after she entered hospice care, the cancer won out. 
Or did it?   
You see, Laura Black was far more than a cancer patient.  She was a child of God.  Not only that, but a beloved child of God, who was chosen to walk a road that none of us - not ONE of us - would willingly walk.  But walk the cancer road she did - beautifully, courageously, honestly, and with far more grace than I believe I could.
In the words of John Piper, Laura did not waste her cancer.  In the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
Laura used her "light and momentary affliction" to point hundreds - no, more likely thousands - to Jesus.  Go and read her Caring Bridge page - have a box (or two) of tissues handy.  Her writing is beautiful, and will take your breath away.  She writes honestly of her struggles, but she writes beautifully of her Savior.
Laura's affliction - to her now - seems light and momentary.  She is fully healed, and rejoicing in the arms of Jesus. 
Well done, good and faithful servant.  She has indeed entered into her rest.
I leave you with the poem, penned by Laura in 2009.
Find me on my face, Lord
When all the world is right
In the quiet still of life
Have me clinging at Your side

Find me on my face, Lord
When sorrows enter near
Casting out all doubt
The Foe brings in with fear

Find me on my face, Lord
Crying for the souls
Of those who walk in darkness
Beneath dark shadows fold

Find me on my face, Lord
When death cries out my name
Not with bitter pangs of angst
But with joyful songs of praise

Find me on my face, Lord
When I cannot understand
Remind me of Your goodness
And the greatness of Your plan

Find me on my face, Lord
Humbly seeking only this:
“Conform my will to Thine”
Not “Please fill my requests.”

Find me on my face, Lord
Whatever life may bring
Rejoicing in the privilege
To bow before the King.