When I first laid eyes on Tony at a singles gathering at North Point, I was immediately drawn to him. Little did I know at the time that not only would he become the love of my life, but a teacher of the most important life lessons I could learn.
When we were engaged, Tony gave me this jar of marbles. There were 77 inside. He was 33 years old at the time and told me that the Bible said we would live to be 110. We were to throw one marble away on each anniversary to signify that a year together was gone. That year and that marble could not be brought back, so we were to make the most of every moment.
There are 75 marbles left in this jar. The two marbles that are gone represent two of the most amazing years of my life. I could go on for pages about the great adventure of life and love Tony took me on, but I will simply say that I learned more about God’s unconditional love for us through the way Tony loved and cared for me than I had in my previous 14 years as a Christian. He was a tangible expression of God’s love daily, moment by moment, kind word by kind word. He treated me like a priceless treasure, just as God does for each of us.
So, what about the 75 left? I find comfort in these verses:
Isaiah 55:8-9: "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Ps. 139:16: “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
God’s perfect plan included Tony going home to heaven much sooner than either of us expected. Though we have all experienced such a tragic loss, I am fully confident that God’s plans for Tony are good and from above. A good friend of Tony’s from Seattle emailed yesterday that it was as if Tony knew all along that he would never live to be 80 or 90, so he intentionally chose to live each day to the fullest. My heart’s desire is to now make the most of the marbles that are left to honor God and honor Tony.
I invite you all on that journey with me. Tony was known for how intentionally he spent his time with his family, his friends, and his colleagues. More than anything on this earth, Tony desired that each person he encountered to know his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Throughout our marriage, we constantly talked about the people in our lives that we wanted to be intentional about spending time with in order to share with them the love of Christ. This included many family members, friends, colleagues, and most recently his Emory classmates. He also made a point to stop and help perfect strangers, whatever their need. This is Tony’s legacy that will shine and last forever.
I can’t even wrap my head around the outpouring of support from those I know and even more I don’t know. I covet your prayers, but please know that I’m going to be okay. The road ahead will be full of much heartache and pain, but because of my faith in Jesus, I have a peace that passes understanding that I will stay the course and allow God to use my loss for His glory.
With a heart full of love for Tony, our family, and for God above,