A hundred.  Actually probably closer to a thousand.  That is a conservative estimate of how many times in the last two months I have wanted to sit down and write out in words what has been going on in my mind and heart.

 I had every intention of writing and sharing some of my fondest memories of growing up with my sister Monta.  From the time she ran away from home on her bicycle and I chased her down the street, to the morning bathroom squabble that ended with me using a hot curling iron as a sword.  I have so many fun stories to tell.

 But for the first time in my life, I could not translate my heart into words.  Expressing myself in words typically comes easy to me.  I mean it should…I am the genetic product of a straight ‘A’ English major and an author that has sold over a million books.

 Yet, every time I sat down to type out my heart, the words wouldn’t come. 

 Instead of finding the peace that I usually find when I write, when I tried to reminisce and pay tribute to my sister for her 40th birthday, it was as if my heart and mind were in a full force war with negative thoughts and feelings that were not my own.

 From the moment I got the phone call from my sister that indeed she would be having open heart surgery, the battle of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘why didn’t Is’ began in my mind. 

I have traveled down the road of the ‘what ifs’ a million times in the last two months.  For a gal who is known for her positive outlook in life, the ‘what ifs’ are not something I am used to battling.

And then there have been the ‘why didn’t Is’.  I would find myself beating myself up over things that I had wanted to do for or with my sister and never got around to doing. 

I can easily find myself dwelling on the fears associated with what tomorrow might bring.  If I am not careful, my mind starts down the path of regretting not following through with what I had intended to do yesterday. 

 Of all the emotions I have felt in the past few weeks, one of them has overtaken them all and become my battle cry through the mental war.

 Thankfulness.  Most of the tears I have shed in the past few months have not been over the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘why didn’t Is.’  My tears have come when I have felt so overwhelmingly thankful for the family God placed me in here on earth. 

 And at the top of that list of things I am thankful for about my family is this….for 35 years I have had the privilege of living life with the hands down best Big Sister in the world.  Don’t even try to argue with me.  Anyone who knows Monta, knows it to be true.  There are great sisters in the world and then there is Monta…the greatest.

 So, though my mind is tempted to regret and fear, my heart shouts this battle cry,

 “Thank you Lord!   Thank you  that I have been able to walk through life with an amazing sister who taught me as to chase after You with my whole heart.  Until my last breath, may I feel the urgency of telling the world that you are the Source of life and love.   Thank you for teaching me not to live in regret or fear, but to live in the fullness of your grace, looking toward the prize of eternity with You.”

2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (NIV)16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.