Joni's Corner

It's my right angle


The Voice of A Quiet Strength (An Unsung Hero)

So I have this incredible friend, who shall remain nameless because… well, that’s just how she rolls. It’s never about her- it’s always about whomever she is with. She’s very “others” minded. There are some friends that are forever.  She’s my “lifer.” Yeah – we’ve been friends since seventh grade. We use to skip school together. Yep, I would play hooky so mom would call in for me and then I would pretend to be my friend’s mom and call in for her. She’d leave her house for school but instead of catching the bus, she’d walk to my house and climb up the back to the window where I would let her in. If by chance my mom ever ventured upstairs (mom & dad’s bedroom was downstairs) I’d hide my friend in the closet. We would just hang out in my bedroom all day. Two crazy young girls thinking we really got away with something. Fun times.

She has always been an inspiration to me because she’s a go-getter, an optimist, and a life-giver (You know the kind: instead of “sucking’ life out of you, they refresh, encourage, and rejuvenate you). Just to hear the mention of her name makes me smile.

Last summer we were both attending the grand opening of a local sporting goods store. The store is located very near her home but is a bit of a trek for my husband and I. Clay and I were going out to dinner afterward. As luck would have it (and you should know by now I happen to never believe in luck or coincidence), one of my brand new first time worn sandals literally broke apart. I was shoeless. What does my friend do but steps out of her own sandals and hands them to me informing me she can zip home and get another pair. She says I am too far from home and she insists this is the answer to my dilemma. So, my “lifer” gives me the shoes off her very feet and leaves the store bare-footed. And – she is delighted because her sandals happen to match the outfit that I am wearing. This is oh so typical and I love her for it! And do you know the most amazing part of this particular story?  I got to “walk in her shoes!” I WALKED IN HER SHOES!!! Can you believe it? This so humbled me (you’ll see why)! What a privilege! What an honor! I love that Gal! ❤

We have so much in common (even our shoe size J), from the superficial (we LOVE fashion, yummy food, yoga, and a good glass of Chardonnay) to the deep and meaningful (we LOVE Jesus, our husbands, precious relationships, and kindness). We have never not liked being together. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention how we love to laugh! Her laughter is contagious and healing and oh so fun! Ours is one of those lifelong friendships that make your journey on this globe a little richer and more meaningful.

I still remember the moment that I heard the cancer was back. It was like being sucker punched right in the gut. As soon as I could get alone, I hit my knees! “Please NO Jesus! Please Please NO! Not her! We need the “hers” in this world!”

Then I find out it didn’t just come back yesterday, but has been back for several months. As a matter of fact, she found out during the Christmas season. The fact that it fell during the time of her Savior’s birth brought comfort to her. Life Saving Comfort! But it also brought pain. She cares so much for others and she didn’t want her family’s holidays to be dampened with bad news. Told ya, that’s just how she rolls. She is quietly under-going treatment. And I thought, “This is so her! She’s always thinking of others. She’s never about her. Can’t believe I didn’t know… well, yeah, I can. God, I love this gal! (Have I mentioned that?)”

She has let me accompany her to the bi-monthly appointments. You’d think we were there for a skin rash prescription. Her courage and character AMAZE me! Her Oncologist loves her! Literally, he walks into the room and shouts, “There’s my favorite gal!” Though he towers over her tiny frame, he scoops her up into a big bear hug. Everybody loves her. She is on a new kind of chemo that is oral and she hasn’t lost her hair (I am eternally thankful to God for this!!! No port, no sitting and waiting while the bag slowly empties into the vein. It is a precious gift from heaven and modern medicine.). She has beautiful hair by the way.

And this brings me to one of the reasons for this post. For those of you who are prayer warriors, you don’t need a name because not only does Jesus know her intimately, but knows the exact number of hairs on that beautiful head of hair. And the Holy Spirit knows just the words that need to be said – so lean on Him. Let’s storm heaven’s door okay? Let’s overload those celestial circuits and really move some mountains.

You know I’m laid up for a while after injuring my ankle.  Well, she comes to the house, brings food, brings gifts, helps with whatever I need, and files and paints my toes so they look beautiful. She stays for the day and it’s not until her last hour that she even mentions her new meds to me. She spells them for me (she knows I’ll search that web and find out everything one can find out about them). After she leaves, and my love tank is overflowing, that’s when I knew I wanted to write about her.

It is one thing to desire good character or hope that we respond courageously when facing our own fiery furnace. We read about courage, pray for it, study it in our Bible studies, but to be thrown into that furnace is the only real way we can ever discover the strength of that character. She is right in the middle of her furnace. And trust me, the heat has been turned up. And you know how she responds? Well, it’s much like one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies.

The Count of Monte Cristo (A must see if you have not already seen it!)

Let me set up the scene for you… The Count is giving a birthday toast to young handsome Albert, who a short time earlier was kidnapped in the catacombs and the captors threatened to cut off his finger and send it home to his father. Albert stuck out his chin and said to them, “Do your worst!” His bravery was unsurpassed.

Here is the toast (this is so good but it won’t be near as good if you haven’t seen the movie- you gotta see it J):

When I arrived in the catacombs I watched as the criminals who tied Albert to a wall, threatened to cut off his finger and send it to his father as evidence of his abduction. The boy’s reply to all this was, “Do your worst.” (Then, turning to Albert) Life is a storm my young friend, you will bask in the sunlight one moment and be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into the storm and shout as you did in Rome, “Do your worst! for I will do mine.” Then the Fates will know you as we know you, as Albert Mondego, the man.

This is her! This is my friend! She has looked cancer right in the face and shouted, “Do your worst! And I’ll do mine!” She is an unsung hero that cannot be destroyed by the rocks because well – when you smash a beautiful vessel against the rocks, the light inside pours out for all to see! That’s how much character she has. That’s why her name isn’t in this post. She wants no attention drawn to herself. (Have I mentioned what an inspiration she is to me and how much I love her? Yes? Well, it’s worth repeating. J )

But some of us know and heaven knows and is recording every bit of the story… every one of her hidden tears. I think the angels catch them in a bottle on those quiet nights that she lets herself think about it and the tears come. I think that bottle is placed in a special room in heaven that is labeled, “Valiant One.” In the face of fear there is no shrinking back for her.

God tells us in His Word that “When we are weak, He is strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Sometimes He uses others to be the strength for the weak. I want to be that strength for her. However, I find that she is that strength for me! I want to be that “sister born for adversity” (to help in time of need- Proverbs 17:17). However, I find that her courage helps me in my time of need… the need to be a better person in all aspects of life.

You see, this is what the “hers” in this life do for us. They teach us what to value. They spur in us a desire to be like them. They point out what really matters in life. They keep it real. They mirror the very nature of Christ for us. There is a beautiful strength in that. A quiet strength. So quiet it is deafening in its ability to speak to us. We would do well to stop and listen.