I have been telling Chrissy for weeks now that I need to guest post on her blog for Steph. I have a story to share. A story that has God's name all over it. A story that some already know. It is the reason why........
Eighteen years ago in May, my husband Kenneth suffered a heart attack at the age of 40. This was the beginning of many health problems for him. At this time, our daughter Chrissy was in 6th grade and our son Jarad was in 3rd. This was the very same time that I met Stephanie Phillips. She was just graduating from Catholic High School. Chrissy's basketball coach and our good friend, Tom had brought in a few girls to work with his little team of 6th graders trying to improve their skills for the big move to Cherokee Junior High. He formed a friendship with her and kept her involved with the girls and in helping her make extra money. More and more Steph would seek me out to talk.
As we all know, Steph signed with the SMS Lady Bears. She moved into the dorms but would still call me. One day, before the season started, she called and sounded so different. Almost lost. I said, "are you okay"? Those three words changed our lives forever. She started crying. I was SHOCKED. Hard core Stephanie Phillips, I was positive, would NEVER cry! She asked to come over. This also was the beginning of our hour upon hour of marathon talks.
Our friendship began. We talked (and still do) daily. She became part of our family. She loved the busyness of our home. You might ask yourself why a girl would spend so much time with someone else's family when she already has a family, a great family. She loves her family. Well, simply put it's a God thing.
During the first year of our friendship, Steph and I were at my house doing what we always did.....talking and eating. I remember the moment. I became very serious and somewhat emotional. I told Steph that our friendship scared me. I told her that I felt like God put her in my life for a reason and that it was health related. I was so sad. She agreed with me; she felt it too. We talked more (because that's what we do) and I told her I felt like I was going to lose Kenneth and that she was supposed to be there for me. I was confused on how this 19 year old girl was going to help me. Hey, I was 34. I was the elder. So Kenneth continued to have health problems and Steph continued to be by my side through each one. We never talked about losing Kenneth again. She would just tell me things like "I will push you in your wheelchair", "I will wipe the drool from your face", "I will NEVER be able to do your hair". We laughed. She told me she would be my forever friend. She insisted that we label ourselves as such.
Fast forward to January 2010. Sitting together in the bathroom of our hotel room. Scot, Drew & Levi fast asleep in the beds. Steph knew that she was going to die. We cried. She wondered what her funeral was going to be like. She wondered if Levi would remember her. She was especially sad that she was going to be responsible for breaking her mom and dad's hearts....forever. She cried to me and apologized for what she had done to my life. How she has consumed so much of my time, how her children have consumed so much of my time. I stopped crying. I felt so peaceful. I looked at her and said, "Oh Steph, do you remember many many years ago, in my house, our conversation about our friendship and it being health related. It was never Kenneth, it was YOU."
I have such a peace about my life. I have tons of joy everyday. I want to share with everyone I know and with most I don't know that while we are waiting for our Father to take Steph home this house is full of love and joy. Love from my family and her family. She is surrounded daily by these people and special friends. We love on her. We read Scripture to her. We share special messages from cards that are sent to her. We play her favorite music. All the little ones kiss her and tell her they love her, she smiles, it's precious. The joy, oh the joy! There is nothing better than to watch Drew and Levi play with THEIR forever friends and be so content.
I now understand why even though this is one of the hardest things I have ever done, it is the easiest. I don't do this alone. Never have. Never will. Steph has an amazing husband in Scot, my husband Kenneth is equally amazing. We are making a great team in keeping Steph comfortable. I'm surrounded by Chrissy and Jarad, who hug and kiss me more than the little ones. One started the blog and the other the foundation. My son-in-law, Brian who drops by to check on ME, who wraps those big arms around me and tells me he loves me. My daughter-in-law, Ashley, who calls me her mother-in-love and who drops everything to take Drew & Levi to Bass Pro to pick something special for their Daddy for Father's Day. While Scot, Kenneth and I tend to Steph's needs, we never have to worry about the boys and if they are being cared for and loved on. Most importantly, I know I am not alone because my Father in Heaven is holding me every second of every day. I have always known the Lord. He has always been a huge part of my life. It's time like these that he NEVER leaves my side.
I wanted to share our story. People have just always known Steph as a part of our family, but many often ask me how EXACTLY we met. Most importantly, I wanted people to understand how God has put us together and carried us through this journey. It is truly amazing to all of us and we are eternally grateful for His faithfulness.