31 January 2014


Just before Christmas, my younger cousin, Rebecca, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s healthy and energetic, and she has a perfect, beautiful 16-month old little boy, Charlie. Rebecca and I probably weren’t the closest as children; her brother Rob and I are the same age, so our interests were typically more aligned. Rebecca is two years younger than Rob and I, and even though that age difference is practically non-existent now, it seemed more significant then. We became much closer during college though, so much so that our Grandmama spoke often about how happy it made her for us to be friends as well as cousins. We christened ourselves “cousin-friends," and well, I could never have imagined how meaningful and important that hybrid relationship would become, not only with Rebecca, but also with my other cousins with whom I am blessed to share friendships. Of course, I’m sure Grandmama knew; hence, her happiness.

Rebecca shares many traits with our Grandmama, and mostly, it’s the ones that I strive to emulate but never quite master: her reserved determination, her limitless kindness, and her ability to turn just about anything into a story. My most favorite memories of our college years are the times she cooked spaghetti (with Worcestershire sauce) and the time that we played Chinese fire drill in front of the Alabama Theater so that I could parallel park her car. These may not seem like major life events, but let me tell you, mention either of them to us, and I guarantee we’ll laugh… a lot.

Rebecca had a double mastectomy the day after Christmas, and just this week, she had her first of eight biweekly chemo treatments. I am in awe of her strength and positivity, though I suppose I am not really all that surprised by it. She’s always been the funny one, the sweet-spirited mischief maker, the little girl who always wanted to make people laugh and who grew up to become a young woman who always manages to find the good in everyone. Since her diagnosis, Rebecca has spoken frequently to acknowledge the power of prayer and to ask that her friends and family join in praying for her healing; she has repeatedly voiced her confidence in God’s ability to heal. She doesn't complain, and almost never mentions fear or worry, and to me, this has been perhaps her greatest testimony.

Ephesians Chapter 3 has been on my mind quite a bit lately. It was written by Paul while he was in prison, and during this time of struggle, Paul writes not about his physical suffering but instead about God’s righteousness and faithfulness. Isn’t that incredible?

I haven’t figured out God’s ultimate purpose in putting Rebecca through this awful ordeal — putting all of us through it — and it’s probably not for me to know or understand anyway. I am certain, however, that I have learned a lifetime’s worth of lessons about grace, gratefulness, faith, courage, and humility.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

I love you, Becca.

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