A childhood friend of mine died this weekend.
She was 19.
She had cancer for the past 4 years.
It's so unreal to me.
It is in moments like these when we are called to trust in His plan.
To believe He uses the sorrow and the sadness for His glory.
To know that He knows exactly what He is doing.
Looking back on growing up with Diana the things I remember most clearly about her were her infectious laugh, her sweet personality, and her respect towards others.
Regardless of the fact that we were about 7 years old, Diana made sure to address my parents as Mr. or Mrs. LaBriola. The last name LaBriola is a mouthful for any child but Diana made sure to use that mouthful of a last name whenever addressing my parents.
She was always sure to include everyone in the games we would play at recess.
Often times she would be the leader and distribute the parts we were to play in the game but it was always done in a generous manner and with a sweet spirit.
Her laugh, my goodness when she laughed we could not help but all bust up laughing.
There was just something about her laugh.
There was something about Diana in general.
There was always something special.
Diana was special.
She was diagnosed with a type of cancer that would eventually spread throughout her body.
But that did not bring her spirits down.
In fact her joyful spirit still soared.
Her faith strengthened.
And the thing that just blew me away was her acceptance of her cancer.
Diana believed that her cancer was the cross that the Lord had given her.
What an incredible person.
Her comment about her cancer being her cross stunned me.
I was not stunned or shocked because it was out of character for Diana;
I was stunned to see how greatly I fail in picking up the cross that He has given me and following Him.
We are called to pick up our crosses and follow Him.
We are each given a cross to carry to better understand the life of our Savior and to learn to follow Him.
The crosses we are given may change throughout our life.
They may be big.
They could be small.
We may be given one cross
or we may be given a couple crosses to carry.
If I could carry my cross half as well as Diana did, I would be a different person.
It is in picking up our cross that we learn to lay down our lives for Him
and it is in surrendering to Him that we find true freedom.
In our humanness we do not understand the irony.
We struggle to understand that in giving of ourselves completely to Him,
it is then that we become free.
Instead of pushing our crosses aside
or carrying our crosses with complaints,
what would happen if we gracefully and joyfully picked up our cross?
What would have happened if our Lord picked up His cross and complained all the way to Calvery? Or if He just ignored His calling to pick up His cross?
The story, the greatest love story of all time, would be completely different.
Just as with our lives, if we picked up our cross the way the Christ did, our story would be different.
Each of our stories would be different.
We would be different.
The world would be different.
We could begin to change the world if we could learn to pick up our cross with grace and joy.
One of the things I learned when we moved to Texas was this-
there is a difference between doing what God asks of you and doing it with grace.
That is one of the most important things I have learned on this journey of life.
There is a difference between doing it and doing it with grace.
The very next moment you are called to pick up your cross,
take a moment to figure out how you can do so with grace.
Bring Christ into every part of your life, especially the hardest parts, the crosses.
If anyone understands, it is Him.
It is He who loves you
and it is He who is strong enough to give you the strength to pick up your cross and to follow Him.
Follow Him, for His burden is easy and His load is light.
Diana gracefully picked up her cross and followed Him and by His grace she will see Him face-to-face.
May we all be graced with the same undying faith that Diana exemplified so well.
Pick up your cross.
Make the choice: with grace or without?
Please pray for the repose of Diana's soul as well as for the comfort, peace, and strength of her family. Thank you.