I woke up with a bit of a heavy heart today, and I need to put a request out there to the blogging community. I have a friend who desperately needs your prayers, so I'm putting this out to all of you who read this to please keep my friend, Sonnie, in your thoughts.
Last July, I participated in a Christ Renews His Parish retreat at my church. I had moved to the area in February and started attending the church T went to, but I wanted to get a little more involved and to meet some women at my church and make friends. It was a weekend long retreat where we stayed at the school attached to our church. I didn't know the women who were going through the retreat with me, but over the course of a weekend, I made several new friends in each and every one of these women, as we bonded through prayer and sharing our life stories. After the retreat, we all stayed in touch through email and then later we came together as a group to put on the next retreat for the next group of women for late January 2010.
What happened next, I would never have imagined in a million years. We thought we had all grown together as a group by going through the retreat in July, but by coming together as a group to put on a retreat for another set of women made us closer than we were before. We all opened up about our life experiences, the trials and tribulations each woman has been through, and we spent the next six months, meeting together weekly, and growing closer and closer as a family. After we gave the retreat in January, I felt like I knew each and every one of these women intimately and knew that I was walking away with close friendships I would treasure forever. We've kept in touch, meeting about monthly since that time and plan to keep doing this as long as we can.
Sonnie is one of those ladies I had the great pleasure of meeting in July and getting to know even more after the initial retreat. She is a woman who came to the U.S. from Nigeria and is an active member in our community and church. She is hands down one of the strongest people I have ever met. To hear her life story, you know that faith can get you through anything, as it has gotten her through so many hard times. She and I shared a common interest, as she confided in me that she served as a foster mother for children in the child protective services system for many many years. I admire anyone who willingly opens their home and their heart to help children who need their love and care. She also worked full time as a nurse and is a mother to three children, not all living here in the United States. She has a wonderful spirit and a huge heart. However, Sonnie, throughout the retreat process, received devastating news that she is suffering from terminal liver cancer. She continued on through the retreat process and found peace through her faith. She told us all to not worry but to just pray for her, and everything would be OK. She would tell us to think of the verse "Cast your fears upon Him, for He cares for you." (I now keep this verse written and posted in my office to get me through the day.) I'm not sure if I would have that kind of strength in the face of such news.
We have been continuously praying for her as the months have gone by, but her condition has steadily worsened by the day. She is now in the intensive care unit, fully hooked up to a ventilator, feeding tube, dialysis machine, and unresponsive. I met with some of the women in my retreat last night to pray for her, and I am asking everyone I know to send up a prayer for her and her family that they may find peace in this time. She really needs them.
I believe God brings certain people into your life for a reason, and I believe he brought Sonnie in mine to show me what faith truly means and to show me how strong a person can be in the face of life's trials. I admire her more than she will ever know.
I'll be back tomorrow with a post that is a little lighter and happier to read, but for today, my heart is just a bit too heavy for that. Thank you all for your thoughts for her. I know she and her family truly appreciate them.