“God, please bring my son a friend.”
Soon after I prayed this prayer 21 years ago, my 3 year old only son Jake’s pre-school teacher told me about an emerging friendship between my son, and another young boy, Joey, also an only child. A playdate was arranged at McDonalds and over time their friendship led to the Wunnenberg and Mis families becoming friends and experiencing many significant life events together including job losses, graduations, the death of our infant son, her mom’s death last year, and their son’s wedding. (That’s so God, to give me MORE than what I pray for!)
I believe God handpicked Debbie Mis to be my friend. She embraced me unconditionally and my ministry to women. For many years she was my faithful friend and behind the scenes administrator and detail person, while she worked a full time job. God knew I needed someone to keep me organized and free me to do what I do best: encourage people. Debbie cheerfully accepted this role and supported me through the years as I started and led ministries, wrote books and had babies in my forties. She never tired of listening to me dream.
When I sensed God prompting me to take a group of women away for a small group retreat, I told Debbie, and she offered to drive. When I told her I sensed God leading me to charter a bus and take women away for a day to be with Him, she never wavered. Instead, she prayed with me, smiled, did research, and handed me a notebook, to keep me organized, and went on the bus trip. (May 3 will be our 5th annual Hope on Wheels trip for women who have lost children) Last spring when I asked if she would help with over 100 final proofs and permissions for my book, Hopelifter: Creative Ways to Spread Hope When Life Hurts, she took on this 50+ hour challenge to meet my publisher’s deadline.
In November when she announced to me, “I have inoperable lung cancer!”, it was my turn to be her faithful friend, and support HER, no matter what. What a friendship journey it has been during the last few months. She’s invited me to join her to new places I thought I’d never go: radiation, hospitals, and even taking naps in side by side recliners because we were both tired. When she’d head back to the hospital for another stay, I’d show up with my backpack full of books, Bibles and a fun gift, for another adventure with Debbie. One day she called, and said, “Go buy a meat tenderizer and a thank you card for my nurse!”. Apparently crushing pills had become a challenge for her favorite nurse and she wanted to encourage her, so she did.
I have to admit this season of our friendship journey was hard, and I didn’t know if I’d have the strength or courage to endure, but thanks to Jesus, and multitudes of praying friends and supporters, I did. My final moments with Debbie were spent sharing about our adventures, reading her scripture and saying a final pubic prayer to God as I knelt at her feet and joined the circle of love with her family, “God, thank you for Debbie!…” As we prayed, Debbie entered eternity just 3 hours before Easter. Friendship doesn’t get any better than that. God gave and God received her.
I will miss you Debbie. Each time I see your word “BELIEVE” or a Frog (Fully Rely on God) or a cross, I will thank God for you and the lives you have touched. Your prayers and impact live on. I will see you again!
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
We will be celebrating Debbie’s life on Saturday, April 26 at 10am at Central Christian Church in Gilbert, AZ.