Monday, February 27, 2017

Manda Strong

It's with an extremely heavy heart that I'm writing this post.  As many of you may already know by either knowing her or by reading another blog this morning, our sweet, sweet friend Manda went to be with Jesus last night. There are so many incredible things I could say about Manda so today I just wanted to share with all of you a little of the Manda I knew, and will see again in heaven one day!  The Manda who, above all things, loved the Lord with all her heart and showed His love to everyone she knew. The Manda who was such a fighter.  The Manda who never let her eyes stray from Jesus, despite what she was facing or the odds.  The Manda who didn't always understand but trusted God anyway.  

She was such an inspiration to so many people and I want her legacy to live on in others' lives...her kiddos, her husband, her family, her friends, and all those who were touched by her story.  


The words below were the words we shared in 2014 when Manda began her third battle against cancer. 

"Manda first had cancer at the age of five and was in remission until it resurfaced again one week after giving birth to her son at age twenty-eight. Only two weeks after having her son, Manda made the brave choice to have one of her legs amputated in order to completely remove the cancer from her body. After that, Manda held strong as a brand new mommy and spent the first year of her son's life undergoing treatments to ensure the cancer was gone for good. Now, almost five years later, it is back for the third time. Manda's family is full of hope and joy knowing that God has big plans for Manda's life and the testimony he has given her as a fighter."-2014



It was devastating news, but  Manda put on her armor and was ready to fight this battle head on with hopefully a bit of peace knowing we were all right beside her every step of the way.  Manda experienced countless rounds of chemotherapy, a variety of different trial drugs, and anything else the doctors recommended that could possibly have an impact on this cancer.  She was so courageous and fought the good fight for as long as her earthly body would allow her to without ever losing heart.  The Lord showed His mercy by taking her when he did so she doesn't have to fight anymore.  Today, with no more pain and no more sorrow, she is standing face to face with her Savior and I know he's telling her "job well done!"


There are so many things I want you to know about our Manda that I could go on for days but I will mention a few...


If you met her, you'd walk away saying she's one of the sweetest people you'd ever met.  Manda truly had an infectious heart of gold. She was one of those girls I could call crazy late at night asking for her help and she would have been there as quickly as she possibly could.


Manda was an unbelievably great mama.  She was fighting cancer all while being a dedicated wife and raising two kiddos, doing everything she could to teach them about Jesus.  


For the most part, Manda was more quiet and reserved, but every once in a while her Mama Bear came out.  The love for her family was so easy to see.


She was truly an inspiration that is beyond words.  To believe how big of an inspiration, you would really have had to live it with her.  In the midst of the normal strains of life and everything else she had going on, she made time to serve others so graciously. 


She brought the calm and rationale to our group.  She was the voice of reason, the fighter in each of our corner, and the one always seeing the good in others, no matter what.  A better wasy to say it is that Manda was the best at seeing each situation with the same grace we would expect God to see.  She truly was an angel among us...and we know she's still with us and we will see her again someday!


My life, and my testimony, is so much better because sweet Manda was in it.  I wish you all could have known the Manda I knew (know) and loved (love).  Nothing I could ever say in a few words on a blog post could do Manda's life journey justice but hopefully by sharing how amazing she was, her life song has made a lasting positive impact on you.  


Despite her odds or obstacles, Manda always chose faith over fear throughout her entire battle.  Why, or how you might ask would she have the courage to choose faith through it all?  To Manda, that answer is simple, Jesus!  Jesus didn't will this for her, but He used her through it.  If Manda were writing this today, she would want you to know that no matter what you are going through, God loves you and He is using you to help change lives and encourage others.  She would also tell you our time here on earth is extremely fragile and temporary, but the work we do here on earth and the legacy we leave behind is eternal!  She would tell you to make the most of each day, love big, forgive big and make the time you have count!


As her friend, I'm heart broken for her family, her friends, and selfishly myself.  The pain of her leaving is hard and will continue to be tough, but I have peace in knowing the second she left this earth her body was fully healed.  She was in the presence of our Savior.  She WALKED through those great gates.  I also have peace in knowing I will see her again in heaven.  Even if it's 50 years from now, compared to eternity, it's no time.  The earthly part of my heart is breaking but is rejoicing at the same time for a dear friend who is pain free and in the arms of Jesus.

Manda, we love you big and are missing you dearly.   XO



"As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have remained faithful." 2 Timothy 4:6-7 


"Please be in prayer for Aaron Maxwell, their children (Aiden and Miley) and the whole family as they spend their final earthly moments with beautiful Manda. She has run the race and fought harder than anyone we've ever known...but now, we graciously await her homecoming with Jesus. Thank you so much for the love, support and prayers as she's battled so bravely this third bout with cancer."-From Manda Strong FB


I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the calls, texts, and e-mails I've received letting me know you were praying for this family.  It means the world.

In honor of our friend, Manda, I'll be taking the week off.  We're going to move our What's Up Wednesday link-up to March 20th.  If you post this week, just make sure to link-up on the 20th.  We'll be skipping Friday Favorites this week.  Next week is Spring Break so I'm off that week as well, but Andrea will be hosting Friday Favorites on the 10th.  I'll be back here on the 13th.  Hope to see you then.  XO

38 comments:

Leslie said...

I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss, Erika. Manda's family, all of your friends and you are in my prayers.

Bailey Bryant said...

Your words are very beautifully written. Many prayers for Manda's family and friends.

Megan @ Letting In The Light Blog said...

What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful friend. I'm so sorry for your loss. Praying for comfort for all those who knew and loved her.

Mix and Match Mama said...

Love you so much, Erika. You summed her up beautifully. xo

Elizabeth said...

I saw y'all' posts on Saturday and last night and my heart was broken. Manda and her family have been in my prayers and they will continue to be!

Narci Dreffs said...

This post is beautiful, friend! And, spot on about on our Manda! Love you! Xo

Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} said...

Reading all of these tributes is so touching. Manda was an incredible person, and we were all so lucky to have her in our lives. And you were so right when you said she was so sweet and reserved, but WATCH OUT when Mama Bear came out!!!! I loved that about her. Love you too.

Meagan @ The Clanahan Fam said...

What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend. My prayers continue to be with her family and with her tribe, who loved her well and she loved back. And what a sweet time she must be having with Jesus right now. Hugs, girl.

Dustie Day said...

Such a beautiful tribute. So sorry for your loss, Erika! Praying for everyone that has been touched by her.

Whitney Pegram said...

Just beautiful. All of you girls are incredible & it's so easy to see God's light shining through each of you! Praying for her family & you all! 💞

Lindsey said...

Last May, one of our "girls" lost her husband to cancer and it shook us all to the core. I've experienced death with family and other friends, but seeing one of your own , that is so young is so hard. It radically changed my faith and has made me truly understand the scripture "but if not, he is still good!" I have seen God's goodness even in the dark times. The past year, my husband and I have really changed our priorities. So many things in life do not matter! Love your husband more, love your kids more, and share Jesus! Time is so precious. Praying for all of your hearts during this time!

kimm atwood said...

Praying for all of you

Paula said...

I am so sorry! Manda sounds incredible! Like she would has wished, God did use her! Her love for Jesus, family & friends shines through each of you!
Prayers as her family tries to find their new normal.

Rebecca said...

So very sorry for your loss. Your words were spot on and even though I didn't know Manda, I feel certain she would have loved how you illustrated JESUS. Praying for peace and comfort and precious memories to last a lifetime for all of you! xoxo

Amanda @ That Inspired Chick said...

This was such a beautiful tribute to her. I'm not sure if my last comment went through or not because my screen froze up but I wanted to say that I'm so sad that I never got the chance to know her better. She was so incredibly sweet and had such a calm spirit. Her testimony really stuck with me and I feel so blessed that I even knew her a little bit. Praying for you all. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help with anything at all. Love you, friend. ❤

Perfectly Port said...

Each one of these brings me to tears but oh her sweet testimony is touching so many hearts and She is planting seeds even in this moment. Praise the lord we can be reunited in heaven, there is hope in the grief. Praying for you all in the days and weeks to come especially her precious family. Xoxo Erin

Angela Ellingson said...

So sorry for your immense loss! So thankful for the hope we have in Jesus. I will continue to pray for her sweet family.

Jan Fisher said...

A beautiful post for your beautiful friend. So very sorry for your loss. Praying for her sweet family and for all of her friends. Life is so tough sometimes!

Megan said...

So perfect. So beautiful. And so true. She is dancing on streets of gold. Love you all.

Raeanne Colville said...

So sad for you, Shay, and the rest of Mandy's family and friends. May her legacy live on forever.

Kathy Lang said...

You can tell through your words what a beautiful person Manda was on this Earth. I believe her sweet spirit will live on through her family and friends like you. Praying God gives her husband, children, extended family and friends all the strength and peace they need.

live compassionately said...

I'm so sorry Erika. This broke my heart when I saw the news yesterday. This was a beautiful tribute to your friend. I will be praying for Manda's family and all of her girlfriends this week. Xoxo.

Meredith Kelly said...

"The death of people whom we love brings sorrow and deep pain; but if our loved one knows the Lord, our loss becomes their gain." This quote has given me much comfort over the last year and hope that it will you too. Surely they are rejoicing in Heaven for their gain!!

lorisavage said...

Praying for her family and all of her friends. I am so sorry for your loss.

9thand5th said...

It is not selfish to be heartbroken for yourself!! You have lost a beautiful, beautiful friend. Her impact on your life is clear. Manda is a sweet soul that has left a huge impact. I am so so sorry for your loss. Sending all my love and thinking of you all during this time.

Erin said...

Sending hugs and prayers over the miles to you all. Such a lovely post about a lovely woman.

Natalie Clark said...

Praying for y'all this week. My sister is fighting cancer right now and she is in the trenches. I have come to know that while she is fighting, her family and friends are an integral part of her fight. Manda was so blessed to have y'all by her side encouraging her. Not only did she bless y'all, but y'all blessed her.

blondiefromtexas said...

Praying for y'all! Hugs to all!

Lisa said...

Erika, I'm sorry for each of you sweet girls who lost your friend. You all have made such loving tributes today which is a testament to Amanda and y'alls friendship. I'm happy you're taking breaks to grieve, regroup and be with each other I'm sure. Praying for her family and your fierce gang💕

Lindsay at Lindsay'sSweetWorld said...

What a beautiful tribute for a beautiful girl inside and out. Erika, I know that there are no words that I can possibly say to make you hurt any less, but just know that I am praying for you and for her sweet family.

Alayna said...

heartbreaking. prayers for her family and friends.

Alexandra said...

No matter how long you have to prepare, it's always shocking when someone dies. My heart is broken for you all but so grateful that you all have the hope of eternity. I spent 27 years thinking I wouldn't have that with my Daddy only for him to find The Lord about a year before he died. Seeing people bring the Lord's Supper to him in his hospital bed before he died in December is one of my most treasured memories. So thankful as Christians we don't have to grieve without hope. Prayers for all who knew her. Especially those sweet babies.

Rachel Zimm said...

I am so sorry to hear about Manda. Praying for you, your friends, and especially Aaron, Aiden, and Miley. <3 <3

Christina D said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend-I never met Manda in person but words can express so much. Your words about Manda told a story of a Great Mama, Wife and Friend. I somehow came across your blog, and then Shay's, Sheaffer's, and Andrea's and your stories about Manda and friendship were inspiring. Love is what I heard in your stories of friendship, and love is what remains now. God Bless Manda, her family, and friends.

Unknown said...

Erika, I'm so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and Manda's family

Jennifer Pabst said...

So deeply sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers will be with you, your family and Manda's family.

Jen
jpabstfitness.com

Tanya McMann said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Prayers for her family and children and everyone that loved her.

Terra Heck said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend. Sounds like she was a beautiful soul on earth, and is now a beautiful soul in Heaven.