Let me tell you about my dear friend Coni. For starters ... she's dying. Just a few months ago she was diagnosed with cancer. It rapidly spread throughout her body and, unless God miraculously intervenes, it appears it's only a matter of time until she meets Jesus.
Coni is truly an inspiration. Polio has caused her to be in a wheel chair for many years but I have seen this "disabled" woman do more than would have ever been expected of her. I could make a list of all of her accomplishments (and they would be many) but I'd rather just tell you about who she is as a person because it's not her accomplishments that have left of mark on my life. It's simply her.
Coni is in love with Jesus. If you've ever listened to her story, you'd understand that when Jesus touched her life, she was never the same. You could see it in her smile. You could see it in her eyes. You could hear it in her words. You could see it in her actions. She was just crazy about Jesus and He was her hope and ultimate joy.
Coni is a woman filled with passion. Passion is a great equalizer. And, her passion to serve and inspire and encourage and to stand up for what is right and to meet needs allowed her to persevere and get more done when others ... maybe stronger and more healthy physically ... gave up. Coni just didn't quit.
Coni is an amazing woman of prayer. I can't even begin to tell you how many times she let me know that she was praying for me and my family. My family and many other families have countless prayers lifted up for us because of Coni. I believe the effect of those prayers will linger long after she is gone.
Coni is full of compassion. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone so willing to serve and so full of compassion. She allowed Jesus to fill her soul and she gave to others out of the overflow. I would often watch her interact with others ... especially with others who were suffering from either a mental or physical disability ... and I was truly amazed at her patience, her love, and her compassion.
Coni is an encourager. I left every interaction with her feeling loved ... every single one. Even when I intentionally tried to be an encouragement to her, I was always the one who left feeling encouraged.
Coni is a gift giver. Toys. Candy. Clothes. Stuffed animals. Coni always thought of our kids on holidays and even randomly throughout the year. She gave so much to our kids. The fact that this woman, who was incredibly busy herself, always made the time to give something to our kids and to many other kids at Grace Community Church in Goshen ... again, she just did more than was ever expected of her and it was her love for others that inspired her to do it.
Coni is not perfect. She would be the first to admit it. We are all broken in some way. But, more than anything else, Coni is a beautiful daughter of God who, because of the cross is holy, without blemish, and blameless before God. (Colossians 1:22) Her body may be broken, but her soul has been healed. She is a beautiful woman because she is loved by God.
My family is better because of knowing Coni and her legacy will live on in our lives. So, Coni, I truly am amazed at all you've accomplished, but your value was never in that. Your worth and purpose and identity and beauty was always found in the Savior you loved not in the work you loved. And, it was you ... the person ... that truly touched my life and I will be forever grateful.