A few months ago, I ran into a distant cousin at my great aunt’s funeral and learned that she had been fighting Lupus for a long time. My heart broke for her as she explained that she had been in and out of the hospital a lot. I was struck as she shared her story by how strong her faith was. Instead of complaining, she was praising God in the midst of her trials. She let her faith shine as she trusted in her God.
Ever since that day I have been following her journey and praying for her. This week I received news that she has passed. She was 27. Now what I remember the most about her was her smile. Her spirit. As I browsed through her Facebook page this week, every comment is filled with evidence that she knew God and that she ran a good race. Her race may have been short, but she touched the hearts of many and bore good fruit during her fleeting stay here on Earth. Rest in heaven Jasmine Haynes. Job well done.
A couple of months ago, I met a new friend name Cassandra through one of my cousins. We clicked immediately. We are both introverted and have reserved personalities, which is the total opposite of the cousin who introduced us. We shared mutual experiences of trying to meet genuine people we felt safe opening up to, and were delighted to discover that we had so much in common. We exchanged numbers and we started texting each other and talked on several occasions. I was so grateful that God brought us together. We tried to make plans to meet up for lunch, but our busy schedules kept us from nailing down a date. Four months ago, I received a text from my cousin that Cassandra had just suffered a massive stroke. She was 41. I honestly could not believe my eyes and what I had just read. My heart and my eyes swelled with tears and I asked God why? Why her? Why now? She has a baby boy and two adolescent girls. My heart is heavy with regret over not dropping my plans to make time to have lunch with her. I was so looking forward to getting to know her, but in the midst of my questioning and sadness, I humbled my heart to trust God’s will and prayed like crazy for him to save her. I'm grateful to say that Cassandra is still alive, but she has a long road ahead of her, including overcoming brain damage from her stroke. I believe God is a miracle worker and I'm still believing God for her complete mental and physical restoration.
Two unique stories.
One common lesson.
Life can change dramatically before we take our next breath.
Both of these women had plans for tomorrow and responsibilities on their shoulders. Both were looking forward to their futures. Did they appreciate the moments they had? When they heard the common platitude “Life is short,” did they know just how short it could be? Had they made up their minds to live as if they were dying?
We all have a lot of things on our plates. We're wives, mothers, friends, daughters, entrepreneurs, employees, and the list can go on. Most likely you're overwhelmed with all of the pressure and responsibilities that fall on you every day. Sometimes you may feel as if you don't know what to do first. When we are sleepwalking through each day or just going through the motions of our lives, it’s hard to pay attention and live with a constant gratitude for the moments God gives us on this earth. How do we live as if we are dying?
Here are a couple of solutions to end the cycle of overwhelm and busyness that have been helpful to me as I have processed the events of the the last couple of months and weeks of my life.
1) Every morning ask God to show you what's important today.
Ask Him to guide your steps and allow you to focus on how you can bear fruit that day and live on purpose. Remember he knows exactly how much time you have left. So He definitely knows how you should arrange your time. Trust me, when God calls you to do something important, like going to lunch with a friend who may really need your attention, the laundry can wait. The enemy loves to distract us with what's urgent instead of what's important.
Ask yourself, "Am I more focused on what seems urgent (dishes, email, making more money) or on what's important (playing with your child, sending that encouraging text to a friend going through). Ask God for help to know the difference today and every day.
2) When you talk (or think) about your day, try to change your wording from "I have to..." to "I get to..."
I can hardly believe how this small word swap has changed my perspective since I've started doing this. For example, here’s how it looked today: As I walked around my house, I saw stuff everywhere. My husband literally thinks our guest bathroom is his closet (lol). But instead of getting upset that he left his huge size 10 shoes in the bathroom AGAIN for me to trip over, I said thank you God that I get to clean up after my husband. Thank You that I have a husband, and a good one at that. Thank you God that I get to cook dinner for my family. I would much rather enjoy this Sunday on the couch, but I get to serve my family by cooking and cleaning. Practicing gratitude is a game changer.
Jasmine and Cassandra would love to be able to do the very things we complain about. I bet they would give anything to be able to cook, clean, and go to work.
I know that their lives and what happened to them was not in vain. Jasmine’s legacy will live on forever, and I believe that Cassandra will be completely restored to life as it was before the stroke in Jesus’ name. But until then, her life and the fight in her, has inspired me on so many levels.
Lovely friend, live your life with gratitude and passion. Choose to live like today could be your last. Make up your mind to enjoy every minute of your days and let others be inspired by how you live your life.
I love you dearly.
P.S Will you join me as I continue to pray for Cassandra and her family? And please pray for the Haynes family as they say goodbye to their precious loved one.