This week I want you all to get to know someone, who in just a few short weeks, has shown me exactly what "consider it all joy..." and "perseveres under trial" looks like. When I asked if I could share her and her family's story she said, "Absolutely, if God will be glorified." The last thing Susi would want is to be glorified in any way, so I pray that I can write her story in a way that shows that my friend, Susi, merely reflects a Savior she loves wholeheartedly.
Susi's daughter, Hannah, was diagnosed with leukemia the "curable kind" when Hannah was three years old. For five years Hannah and her family bravely battled this life-sucking disease. Well, usually it is "life-sucking," but not so much with Hannah and her family. Not only did they continue to LIVE with hope and joy in the midst of the reality of leukemia, they constantly chose to remain firmly rooted in their faith...no matter what the circumstances looked like. Were they sad at times...yes, indeed. Did they have discouraging moments...absolutely. Would smothering depression sometimes settle on them with a heaviness that seemed too weighty to lift...it did. Susi honestly tells you about it in her journal on Hannah's "Caring Bridge" website. On one post she leaves her readers with this line from one of the songs many of us sing during worship: "He gives and takes away. He gives and takes away. MY HEART WILL CHOOSE TO SAY, "LORD, BLESSED BE YOUR NAME!" By the way, the emphasis is hers, not mine.
What Susi is more than happy to tell you is that it was a loving Savior who held them up, who restored joy, gave them strength, who gave them treasure after treasure, "every good and perfect gift," time after time, moment by moment and grace that continues to this day. Susi told me once that God knew there would be moments when she would need something tangible to get through the rough seasons, so He had Hannah write precious notes and songs that she can bring out to read and sing. Susi sees His intimate love for her and her family...for all of them, including Hannah and praises God for all His goodness.
I wondered about Susi this week as I divided my life into quarters and wrote down all the "good and perfect gifts" God gave me during those years. What would she have written down for the last quarter of her life? Would she have left off Hannah? You can bet your life, she wouldn't. She would have filled those spaces with all kinds of precious gifts, one of them the treasured last few moments Hannah spent on this earth.
I want to leave you with Susi's words:
"Our God is faithful, only He could help us survive for almost four and a half years without Hannah in our midst and still have a peace and a joy that passes understanding. We have seen His grace and mercy in our daily comings and goings. And we know without a shadow of a doubt that Hannah is happy, well and whole in the presence of the Lord. We know that fair isn't a promise in this life but His love and help is and we do see His love and help through the scriptures and the friends and family that still share God's love with us and remember to pray for our family and even share stories they remember about our amazing little Hannah. We also feel especially grateful that we were given Hannah for eight and a half years. She battled leukemia for nearly five years. We realize that children are a gift from God and are essentially on loan from Him. She grew and changed so much in those five years and blessed us more than words can express! We realize that many people whose children get cancer, don't get five years and we pray for their loss.""We are still looking forward to the day when we are reunited with Hannah in Heaven and get to see Jesus face to face. We had a plan to meet at the Tree of Life and we know it's beauty is indescribable. The Bible says that it is split with the river of life running through the middle of it and on it's leaves are twelve kinds of fruit. All this is proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb. Amazing!! No wonder why Hannah smiled so big as she said, 'I'm In, I'm in'! What an awsome sight to behold!!!"
"We pray that your family is growing closer to the Lord through the things life throws your way. Remember, it's a choice we make and God will honor all that He says in the Bible. Choose to serve Him with all that is within you. He is worthy to be praised."
"God bless you, Susi, Jerry, Abby and Hannah in Heaven:)"
I thought that Friday in January I was going to look at Australian Shepherd puppies and that was it, but God...He had other things in mind. He had another "good and perfect gift" right behind an answered front door in the sweet, smiling face of a new friend!
All I can say to end this post is to echo Susi's words: "He is worthy to be praised." Amen! I pray that we will choose to serve Him, choose to see that He is worthy and choose to praise Him with all our hearts!
Love to you...
PS. If you would like to read more about Hannah and her family, you can go to: blessedhopeaussies.com. At the bottom of the home page is link to Hannah's Caring Bridge website.