Sunday, July 07, 2013

From ashes to beauty -- God's amazing plan

Allow me to tell you a story of God's plan!

Saturday we were blessed to attend (and Monty participate as a groomsman) in Todd and Christi's wedding.  Sounds like the usual wedding - right?  Wrong!

Here's the story.

We met Todd in our church many years ago. He and Carla married about a year after Monty and I.  Carla was also 11 years older than Todd so we laughed quite often about young verses old!

Todd was a Navy man and they traveled quite a bit, one stint was 3 years in Cuba. 

Carla was beautiful - both inside and out.  When she walked into a room it lit up like the 4th of July with her amazing smile. 

In the fall of 2011 Carla had been working in her flower garden and had a lot of pain in her chest.  After a friend nearly demanded that she go to the doctor Carla finally agreed.  They did some tests and a few days later she was told she had stage 4 cancer in her lungs, adrenal glands and after an MRI they discovered numerous, inoperable brain tumors!!!!!!!  The next months were nothing short of hell for her.  The rounds of radiation and chemo, the loss of her long blonde hair, her weight continuing to fall off ---- but ---- no matter what ---- she maintained that amazing smile. 

When the chemo caused her to start wearing hats and she was a bit intimidated by coming to church with one on --- the entire church got behind her and had "Hat Day" where literally everyone, man, woman and child wore a hat ---even Pastor Dave had a football helmet on!

She continued to fight the battle.  Some Sundays she was so weak she just couldn't make it to church.  In the summer of 2012 she was struck with Bell's Palsy which caused one side of her face to be paralyzed.  She still continued to smile -- it was just a bit sideways!

On September 8, 2012 she lost the battle and was welcomed into heaven with probably one of the biggest celebrations ever!

But Todd was devastated!  He is the one who got me my job of school bus driving since he drove -- so I got to see him on a daily basis.  He admitted that there were times he wondered life was still worth living! 

Time marched on, as it does, and in late December he told me one day that he "was ready."  We both laughed when I asked him what he was ready for!  He said he thought he might "see who was out there." 

He signed up on "Christian" and was just going to "look".   Well . . .

Christi turned up as his perfect match!

She lived 2 hours away so for their first meeting they met half way.

That first meeting was one of those divine anointed appointments for both of them!

They started seeing one another more often and spent countless hours on the phone.

Christi ----- she is the same age as Todd and has 3 adopted children ages 10, 4 and 3. 

Christi's husband of 21 years passed away from cancer in March of 2012.  He also was a strong young man with a great family and was struck down way too soon!  Christi's parents and family and church family were by her side day and night.

Both Todd and Christi are true Christians and examples for all of us to follow.

As God brought them together -- healing started.  They share both a love and a grief that few can identify with.  God even added the touch of Todd being adopted so he could have something special in common with Christi's children.

So their wedding was yesterday!  A true day of both grief and inexplicable joy combined.

Both Todd and Christi wanted to honor their departed spouses so they put together a video with 3 stories.  The first was Todd and Carla's life.  The next was Christi and Mike's life.  The last was Todd and Christi's new life together!  There wasn't a dry eye in the church but yet those tears were accompanied by smiles of joy that really did originate from the heart!

I love to see how God works!  He always knows what He's doing and He does it so perfectly. 

Both Todd and Christi could have given up, turned against God and been angry and upset.  BUT they chose to believe, to stand on their faith -- even when they didn't feel God near them, they knew He was there.  They didn't depend on their feelings --- they stood firm in their faith!

What a lesson for all of us! 

The pastor officiating the service used the theme "from ashes to beauty" and nothing could have described it better!

Monty with Christi's mother --- now is that two faces of joy or what!

Monty with Tom, the best man and another friend of ours from church.  Tom has been fighting his own battle with cancer for 2 years now!!!!!!!  (how about some prayers for him)

Since one of the groomsmen couldn't make it --- Monty got "double duty" and was quite thrilled about the whole thing!!!!!!

So next time you are thinking that your life is tough and you wonder if God is anywhere around, let alone right there with you ---- think of Todd and Christi and KNOW He is right there!  Don't rely on feelings as they are never reliable --- rely on your faith --- on God's promises!  He is the only one I know who never breaks a promise!!!!!!

Until next time  ... congrats Todd and Christi --- can't wait to see what God has in store for you and your new family!!!!!!                                                             Susan and Monty

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Reminds me very much of the true story "The Color of Rain", a book I was asked to read and review a couple of years ago on my blog. Sad story with a hopeful ending, just as Todd and Christi's beautiful story.

Monty looks great...but where were you in the photos, lady??? :)