As a freshmen at my local community college, I went with my mom to her women's Bible study. It was Beth Moore's Daniel study and I knew the host because she was the mom of a good friend from middle school, so I decided to go. I was by far the youngest, the one marked by a different generation. But I was immediately welcomed and accepted.
The host was Cathy.
She was someone whose home I always loved being in. Even in those awkward middle school days, I knew there was something different about this home. It was one that made anyone feel welcome and accepted.
Cathy was like that. She treated hospitality like a gift and offered it to all. Even with my friend away at college, she never treated me different but just considered me part of the Bible study group. Even after my mom wasn't able to attend, I stayed with that group of ladies for at least three different studies. Those Bible studies left a lasting imprint on me, because of what I learned and because of the community I was part of. I loved going; I loved soaking up with Word with other women; I loved being known and prayed for and respected despite my age. (And I loved Cathy's breakfast casserole!)
Cathy became one of the few people in my life I consider to be a spiritual mom. I never told her that, but now I have a suspicion she knows.
In a way, she mentored me. I watched how she lived and loved and was so attracted to the way she did both with grace and joy. The way she adored, respected, and supported her husband. The way she loved and encouraged her daughters. They way she opened up her home. The way she lived with beautiful joy and a sure hope. They way she smiled and had fun. The way she loved Jesus. It was special.
I looked up to Cathy. Her marriage, her parenting, her walk with the Lord. It was beautiful. I know others have more personal stories and stories that are more recent. But I moved to Tennessee in 2008 and haven't seen her since then. But that time before moving, with those ladies, was a treasure.
Last year, on Mother's Day, Cathy unexpectedly began a fight with stage four brain cancer. She and her family dealt with the journey with such courage and grace and strength.
And last week, Cathy met Jesus. Every time I think about it my eyes fill with tears. There are times I've been awake at night with my little ones and she's all I can think about. I sit in the dark with them and Jesus and cry and pray. I'm so sad for the daughters and son-in-laws that had to say temporary goodbyes to their beloved mom. I'm so sad for the grandsons that had to give last hugs to their beloved Mimi and a granddaughter that was yet to meet her. I'm so sad for the husband that had to kiss his beloved wife for a final time. I'm just heartbroken for all of them.
But Cathy left a legacy. I'm incredibly blessed by and thankful for the legacy she left. It is a legacy more far reaching than anyone probably knows.
Cathy was marked with love and joy and laughter and kindness and hospitality and perseverance and hope and gladness. More than anything she was marked by her relationship with Jesus. She displayed the gospel and pointed people to it. And still her life points people to it, to Him.
My life is changed because of how Cathy lived hers. She fought for her life this past year and that was a beautiful offering to the Lord, a sacred declaration to the world that Jesus reigns. But she fought in the same way by how she lived all those years prior, with joy and love and hope and that was a beautiful offering to the Lord, a sacred declaration to the world that Jesus reigns.
And as her life on her Earth is celebrated today, I believe heaven is watching and celebrating her today too. Heaven is celebrating another good and faithful servant who came home. And maybe, just maybe, she's standing there with the ones she studied in the Scriptures, with ones like Daniel and David and Paul, watching and celebrating with the fullest of joy and deepest understanding of the beautiful, worthy cost of discipleship and with the utmost peace of being in the presence of her Savior.
You can read about the beginning of Cathy's journey and watch a video her daughter, my friend, put together about it here and read through her blog here. And you can watch her give a testimony about her cancer diagnosis and her faith through it here.
To find out more about Cathy's celebration of life service or watch the livestream of it, head here.
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.