In September of 2009, I asked Mary what verse/thought/words were giving her something to cling to as she was undergoing chemo and radiation. By this point, I knew she was weary... but for those of you who were lucky enough to know her, you knew her spirit and resolve to carry on. She responded to me in an email (on 9/9/9 I just discovered!) with these words:
Favorite Hymn: It Is Well With My Soul (especially love the last verse: "And Lord haste the day when my faith will be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll...the trump will resound and the Lord shall descend, even so, it is well with my soul."
She'd also listed a couple of lines of scripture she liked, too, so I let it roll around in my mind to think about what words I wanted to put on a bracelet to give her. I'd recently seen my Aunt's bracelets (the rubbery "Livestrong" kind) that her friends had made for her during her own fight, and just knew Mary needed some.
That Sunday at church, my sweet friend Debbi stood up to announce to the church she would not be going back to China as a missionary as previously planned. She, too, was now entering the fight with breast cancer. Actually, her husband announced it. When he finished with the nitty-gritty of their story, Debbi came forward to the microphone and said "It is well with my soul."
I came straight home and ordered 200 of these bracelets for Mary... and now, for Debbi too.
I will never forget giving them to Mary- sitting on the couch together, Daddy was sitting in "his" chair. It was rare with the two of them that we were that serious- our family was constantly making jokes. But as I told her why I printed those words (and now the connection to another fighter) and the tears flowed, she and Daddy were speechless... but I remember both of them taking their bracelets and immediately putting them on as we hugged and cried.
The bracelets were spread worldwide. Our families and friends wore them. I gave one of mine to someone working at Downtown Disney after it sparked a conversation. One of mine was given to this sweet girl in Rwanda. With every bracelet I passed out, there was a blessing of grace given. Seeing those bands of pink not only made me smile for the message that was being passed, but it was a way to calm my heart and center it back on those words... and try to make it well with my soul.
beauty in Rwanda
In late January, our sweet friend Leah was diagnosed with leukemia. The morning her mom was taking her for first appointment in Oncology, she stopped by our house on her way to the hospital and I popped one of those pink bracelets on her wrist. A week later it hit me- it's time to order more bracelets. Over the 2+ years I had the others, people loved sharing them with friends... and we'd run out! So we knew it was time to add more "it is well"-ness to our lives.
I asked Leah's mom for her blessing... and also asked what Leah's favorite color was (purple!) to give new life to our favorite bracelet. I also checked with Daddy- I didn't want a color change to appear that I was somehow "moving on" from Mary... immediately he gave his blessing to the rebirth of the bracelets. I vividly remember at our last lunch on March 22 him asking when we'd get them in and telling me he was going to start wearing a purple one with pride. (He called constantly for updates about Leah... in fact, the last time I heard my Daddy cry was when he talked me to about Leah- and Mary- losing their hair.)
Sweet Leah enjoying a strawberry fresh from her garden yesterday morning
Then March 25th happened. My world changed. I won't lie to you... it was not really well with my soul. At all.
But that's the beauty of those bracelets. Wearing those words has become a reminder to me... an anchor, even... on the days when I don't feel it. Or when it's not really well. Or when it's hard.... it's a reminder that I have to choose to make it well with my soul. Even so it well with my soul. Even so.
Even So when Mary loses her fight with cancer.... because she gets to be with the Lord and be healed.
Even So when my Daddy dies unexectedly... because I had 36 beautiful years of him pouring into me.
Even So when a wee one is sick... and we don't know what's next... but we know God is good.
Even So in the miscarriages, the rejections, the fights, the wounds, the broken friendships, the painful words, the lost jobs, the life changes...
And Even So in the blessings! The marriages, the new babies, the adoptions, the attachments, the new friends, the beautiful spring days, the promotions, the hope of tomorrow...
One last thing... I found this when digging through my email archive... words taken from Mary's Facebook page. This was her status update on October 15, 2009- I copied the words to send in an email to Dan.
One can never have too many prayers when those 'sea billows roll' and I must thank my step-daughter, Becky, for the bracelets which invite others to pray for me. The bracelets are inscribed with the title of my favorite hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul." Follow this link to one of the best versions of this hymn available on You Tube.
wearing my new purple bracelet with joy to remind me of all of this. To
remind me of Mary, and Debbi, and Daddy, and Leah... and hope.
It is well with my soul.
I'm wearing my new purple bracelet with joy to remind me of all of this. To remind me of Mary, and Debbi, and Daddy, and Leah... and hope.