BY SHERRIE MCDANIEL, GRACE ATTENDER
I just got home from the 9:00 a.m. service at 146th Street. I have never felt more compelled to share my God story than today. I have shared my story one-on-one many times in the last six years. It was six years ago today that my husband (the love of my life for 32 years) went home to Heaven after an eight-month battle with cancer. He had leukemia, but the type he had would not be cured with chemo. He needed a blood transfusion with the best chances being his siblings. Neither of them matched, so we went to the donor registry of over 5 million. At this time, our son who was in the Air Force. He forgot he checked the box to be a donor, but got a call that he was a match for a 54-year old man. He told them about his Dad who was 54, but they said that it didn't work like that because it had to come from the same DNA. Long story short, he was a match! He was not just a match but a perfect 10 out of 10 match. He donated stem cells for his Dad, which ultimately gave him another 100 days to fight the cancer. On day 101 he died. But, he was closer to God than he had ever been in his life. There are to many God stories to share in this short email, but I assure you God was with us in Houston, Texas every day of this journey.
The next thing I knew, I was left thinking, ""How do I, at 51, live without him?"" I was in a very dark place and felt very alone. After months of grief groups and lots of prayer, I put my hands up and said ""alright God I'm yours to use as you need, if it's doing ministry work or remarriage, I'm willing to follow you."" Ten months after Joel went home to Jesus I was watching TV alone in tears when the Christian Mingle commercial came on. After four times of seeing it in a row, I finally (and reluctantly) went to the website. A mere five days later I got a smile from Mark. We talked on line for awhile (I was married at 19, so had no idea how to date) and then finally met in person. I felt so strongly that this was where God wanted me to go. We have been married almost five years now. Mark is happier than he has ever been in his life and I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful loving husband again. I have found that you can love just as deeply a second time. (Side note is I was married to Joel David and God gave me Mark Jacob. Our God is an awesome God.)
Don't misunderstand that there are still tears today, six years after Joel died. But, he is with Jesus, and in that I have found joy for him. I have also found joy for myself in getting married again. I have also found time to do the ministry work I never would have done before. I now meet with other young widows who need someone (like I did) that ""gets them"". I know what that feels like and I can give them comfort in knowing I've been there. It requires telling my story again and again, which helps me keep Joel alive in my heart and thoughts but it also give me joy to see his trial wasn't for nothing. I have sat and cried with over a dozen young widows in the past few years and I'm praying I can be there for many more. Julie Meiner keeps sending me more, praise the Lord. I love the fact that God can use even someone as unqualified as me to give hope to so many. I will keep telling my story (which is what I tell the young widows that it's my story and they have to find what God intends for their story to be) for the rest of my life.
One more fun fact: Between Mark and I, we have 8 kids (7 living, Mark lost his only son to a brain tumor) and 20 grandkids. We've both been through so much, but God has been faithful when we were at our worst. This is why I tell people my story. So, they can know his goodness when they are in their darkest times.