This photo has been shared thousands of times last week when it was posted on social media, but there's quite a story behind the picture many don't know.
Almost 2 years ago, I received an email from Shirley Walker. Shirley told me how her best friend, Kim Stribling, was a big fan, had been diagnosed with cancer and was going to have to fight for her life. It was stage 4. Shirley thought it would be encouraging for her to read one of my books and she wanted to know where to purchase one.
Purchase one? I thought. Why not just give her one, in person? I arranged with Shirley a time when I could surprise Kim in the hospital. Gently knocking on the door, I walked in and said "I heard someone needed some sunshine today!" The expression on Kim's face was priceless and worth the secret Shirley had kept to arrange this meeting. I gave Kim a signed copy of my devotional and we became fast friends and even discovered that our children shared the same names.
Over the year, I'd visit with Kim and her husband in the hospital. I anoint her with oil many times and prayed for healing, grace and mercy. We prayed for wisdom for the doctors treating her and ministering angels for her family which included her 4 children. We laughed, we cried, and we talked a LOT about faith and God's goodness. When you find yourself wanting so bad to live on Earth, but yet knowing you may not and the questions surrounding those you'll leave behind, reality sets in.
With every good report, Kim would feel a glimmer of hope. And with each negative report, she prepared a bit more for eternity, looking forward to what was to come.
When Kim received her eternal healing, it was clear I needed to grow and donate my hair once more. I had spear headed the Great Lengths program at WLBT for almost 10 years, encouraging viewers to grow and donate their hair with me every 2 years. Our hair donations are sent to Pantene which makes the human hair wigs and sends them back here to Mississippi. Those wigs are placed in a wig room at St. Dominic hospital and are given to women for free. We also work with the American Cancer Society in Jackson to provide the same for those women not being treated at St. Dominic. No matter where the patient is being treated in Mississippi, the human hair wig is free for her.
Just last week, the Great Lengths event took place in Clinton at our host location, the Mississippi Institute of Aesthetics, Nails and Cosmetology. Our 2 daughters, Gracie and Lilly Faith, grew their hair with me and donated as well. But it was only fitting that I ask Kim's 2 younger daughters to cut my hair in memory of their mother.
The time I spent with their mother was sweet, but the minutes spent with them was even sweeter. They may not fully understand right now what it all means, but as they get older, they'll understand Who their mother served.
Romans 12:12 says, "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." We rejoice in Kim's ultimate healing, but we stay patient with this current life God has given us. We stay in constant prayer for discernment in what the Holy Spirit wants us to do next. This, after all, is what thanks living is all about.