Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Life Well Lived

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Two years ago, a dear sister in Christ, Virginia Higgins, lost her battle to breast cancer. I really can't say that Virginia or Jenny as she was known to her friends and family "lost" because she was more than a conqueror through Christ. And I can't say that she is "lost" because we know where she is because we know her faith was in Christ Jesus. So she is in her heavenly home. But it really was our "loss" here on earth because although Jenny lived only 45 years, she lived well. She made an impact. Her presence, wisdom, kindness and praise are sorely missed by all who knew her. 
I will always remember her smiling face, her encouraging words, her praise and love for God and her love for her daughter. She did not have "success" as far as fame or fortune, but she had something much more important--significance. She lived a life that made a difference. She made an impact on people's lives in the here and now and for eternity. She was a wonderful mother, sister, daughter and friend. She was one of my special sisters. One of my parents special daughters in the ministry.
Jenny fought the fight against breast cancer valiantly. But she was a casualty of a disease that takes the lives of thousands of women every year and is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.
In 2012, the American Cancer Society estimates:
  • About 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 63,300 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 39,510 women will die from breast cancer
Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment. Make sure you check your breast regularly and schedule your mammogram. Early detection saves lives.

In honor of Jenny and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am reposting a post I wrote about Jenny not long after her passing and also a video of her testimony.

“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children…” 
Proverbs 13:22
I read the posting on Facebook. It was a posting from the daughter of a friend. My friend, Jenny, passed away this fall. Her daughter commented on how she could still hear her mother’s words and even found herself saying her mother’s very words sometimes.

“Never stoop to their level,” is one of the lessons she could hear her mother saying.

I don’t think Jenny left her daughter vast wealth or a great fortune in the material sense. I don’t think her daughter inherited millions of dollars or property when Jenny died. But what Jenny left her daughter was far more valuable than money, property, silver or gold.

Jenny left a righteous inheritance. Jenny loved God. Jenny loved her daughter and all of the love that she had overflowed to her family, church and community. Jenny left her daughter something far more precious than rubies. She gave her wisdom. And not only did she give her words of wisdom, but she lived a life of wisdom and was an example of a godly woman.

Her daughter has left Jenny’s Facebook page active. Sometimes I read the postings from friends and family who continue to write to her although we know she is in heaven. The postings speak of the impact that Jenny had on their lives. They talk about how much they miss her. How much they love her. How much she helped them with her words of wisdom, comfort or encouragement. How they can still hear her voice, although her earthly presence is gone.

I think about how even when cancer had consumed her body, she praised God and how she had a smile on her face. I think of how even when she was in pain, she encouraged me. And although I mourn the fact that at the age of 45 she has left us, I marvel at the richness of her life and the impact that she had and how much she was loved by so many.

An inheritance is something of value. It is something that lasts long after we are gone. Jenny might not have left a lot of money. But what an inheritance she has given her daughter.

An inheritance doesn’t just mean money or stuff. Those things pass away too, just like our physical bodies. They can be destroyed, lost or deteriorate.

A righteous legacy, however, lasts for an eternity. An example of character and wisdom are valuables that we can leave our children and our children’s children. Not just telling our children about our faith in Jesus, but living our faith, are gifts that lead to eternal life for our families and loved ones. The life that Jenny lived and the lessons that she taught are a part of her daughter and I’m sure she will impart her mother’s life lessons and example to her own children one day.

My husband often quotes his grandmother who passed away nine years ago and will have a conversation with her, saying the words that he knew she would say, speaking into his own life the godly wisdom that she imparted while she was here. Her great-grandchildren sing her praises. People who she babysat speak of how she loved them and took care of them. She was kind. She was wise. She was everybody’s mother. She was a wife. She loved her husband. She loved her family. She loved her God. She left a righteous inheritance.

These women inspire me. I want to leave that kind of inheritance for my children and others who know me. I want to live that kind of life. I don’t just want to store up riches here to leave behind that will deteriorate. I pray that I live my life in such a way that I leave a righteous inheritance.

What inheritance are you leaving your children’s children?

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