Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Woody

I know we've been doing Breast Cancer Tributes this month but tonight, I have a tribute of my own that I want to share with you.

My Uncle Woody died in November of 2004 from cancer. Today was his birthday and he would have been 47. I wish I could put into words what a wonderful person my Uncle was: he was funny, intelligent and love, love, loved his family.  I talked with my aunt tonight and she was telling me how every single October 18th they would eat Manicotti. It was his favorite and she loved making it for him.  I did not know it before tonight, but on his last birthday, October 18th, 2004 he found out he only had a month or less to live. Determined to prove any Dr wrong, he pushed through and did not die until November 19th, a whole day longer than the dr gave him.

I can honestly say that I do not have a negative memory of my Uncle Woody. He was always laughing, always joyful and always blessing others in his path. One of my favorite things about him is how much he loved my Aunt Regina. It was evident to anyone and everyone around him the pedestal he put her on. He would leave her little post it notes each morning with a small love saying on them by her coffee. She still has these and shared some with us in the days after his funeral. He loved doing family things and treasured the time he had with this two children. He would take his oldest, Anna Maria, on trips with him when he traveled. He would leave her letters letting her know just how special she was to her Daddy. Do you have any idea what a rarity that is? He coached his son Addison's teams and made sure to take him to sporting events for special bonding time. He taught 5th grade Sunday School at their church and made up fun songs and memorizations to encourage a greater understanding of the Bible. He was a good man and he leaves a strong family legacy, I'm so thankful for that. Our country, our youth and our world need stories of strong men to lean on in troubled times.

If I'm being honest though, as much as he loved his wife, loved his children and loved his family and friends, he loved Jesus so much more. The single thing I remember most about my uncle is how much he loved, adored and exhalted his King Jesus Christ. I remember when he was first diagnosed with cancer and how peaceful he was about everything. He was a fighter and went through every treatment with courage and determination but he was perfectly ok about the possibility of dying. Don't misunderstand me, Woody did not choose to leave his wife and children. I know he would have loved to rock on the front porch with Regina in their old age and see the wonderful adults Anna Maria and Addison have grown up to be - he cherished his family! The thing is, Woody loved God so much that he wanted His will for his life above his own. He wanted everyone to know that his hope was not in this world - he wanted to see his Jesus, the only good and perfect thing any of us are promised. Do you know this peace? This Jesus? If not, I pray that you would take the time to get to know Him. Jesus loves you so very much and died so that if you too face a scary diagnosis you can have a peace that surpasses all understanding. Everyone around my uncle felt this peace, so much that my Aunt did not even cry at his funeral because she knew where he was, she knew Jesus had called him to something bigger than any of us could understand. I still don't understand but I trust and I too love Jesus and know that He knows the plans He has for our lives and they are for our good!

Tonight, as I was cleaning my kitchen I just could not shake how much he would have wanted me to share his love for Jesus with you. On his birthday, it would be the only gift he would want for everyone reading this. I miss my Uncle but trust in the promises and hope of the One who called him home.

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