100_7000This afternoon I was blessed by getting to go to a Journey of Life Celebration for one of the most amazing women I’ve ever known.  I wanted to write a little bit about her because I feel like everyone who knows me should know her (and not just through the huge impact she’s had on who I am)!

Anna Ratliff is my mentor and my dear friend.  She adopted my husband and me when we were working side by side with her at Smoky Hill Vineyard – where she still faithfully serves and prays and loves.  She and my husband had an instant connection and at that point we were adopted.  I immediately wanted to know her more, but felt like a waste of her time.  She quickly showed me how special I was to her and sacrificed her time to meet with me weekly for mentoring time together.  Life changed and our times together got more and more infrequent because of God calling us to help plant a church 40 minutes away, so our times are mostly families time together and phone calls, but each moment is precious.

Anna has a way of making everyone I’ve known in her life feel important to her.  She is one of the strongest women I have ever met.  She is also great at submitting to authority even in living out her strength and leadership.  She honors leaders and empowers them.  She is a prayer warrior and God speaks clearly to her for others and about others and she trusts Him enough to lead her in each relationship.  She is a real person – not just someone who is made up in my mind like a friend suggested one day when I was describing her.  She sins and makes mistakes like everyone, but she surrenders to God and He uses her to bless and bless and bless.

Anna’s story is one of grace, loss, pain, hurt, blessing, and suffering… much suffering… and mercy, forgiveness, and redemption.  I hope that my story will someday show as much light and glory to God as hers does.  She is a child of God, wife, mama, grandma, great-grandma, friend, and pastor to many.  God has used her to reach thousands.  But when you meet her you will just see class, humility, and grace for others not self-importance and pride.

Her latest struggle has been to battle cancer… again.  To watch her fight this thing is so painful, sad… and inspiring.  A friend said of her today that she is a beautiful example of what suffering should look like and that watching her deal with this suffering helps us all learn that not all suffering is punishment.  She has taught so many of us what it means to worship God and lead others in the midst of pain, suffering and confusion.  She is a beautiful servant.

Anna has to start chemo again on Monday.  She looks stronger than I’ve seen her in awhile, but she still needs our prayers.  I know you would (or do) LOVE this amazing woman, so if you could stop for a moment and pray for her, I’d so appreciate it.

We have the privilege of having her and her amazing husband, Brent, as the leaders who dedicated both our sons with us.  It was precious.

The battle is not done for sweet Grandma Anna.  She’s still in the thick of it, but may you be inspired, as I am, by all that God has brought her through.  I simply want to honor her and her romance with her Savior and encourage the rest of us to become people who others want to write about and become like and teach others about!

This was read to her at the celebration today and it really does sum up who she is.  Be inspired and encouraged.  There really are woman like this out there!

Proverbs 31:25-29

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
    but you surpass them all!”

I love you, Anna.  I always have and always will.  Thanks for being a beautiful example to me and the rest of the world!

Update:  It’s been about a year now, since Anna passed.  She fought long and hard and finally went to be with her Savior.  All of us who know her have her fingerprint on our hearts and she is dearly missed.  The last thing she said to me when we went to visit her was, “I’ll see you soon, dear one.”  So, with that same eternal hope, I celebrate her life once again.