“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.“ – John 16:33
I’ll be the first to admit: I like Unicorns and Rainbows. But Life does not always work that way. It often throws things at us that challenge our faith, our courage, and leave us asking “Why?” We can be left with feelings of fear, despair, and anger. It is through Love and Community that we are able to make sense of it all and hold true to our callings.
Through the creation of the Fierce 50 in February, I made a new friend this year: Anita Morris. She is the creator of Anita By Design, a fashion blog dedicated to her love of fashion, combined with her passion as a talented seamstress. Anita personally visited and joined in the festivities at the launch party for the Cat & Kaehler show, and was accompanied by a very handsome gentleman with one of the kindest hearts I’ve ever encountered, her husband, Cecil. It was awe-inspiring to witness the beautiful and intimate bond these two shared and beauty evident in their relationship humbled me and brought tears to my eyes! Their love for each other, for God, and for life seemed to emanate from their souls as they laughed and enjoyed the group and one another. Cecil is a man who was dedicated to helping others in his role as a Firefighter. He was getting ready to retire shortly after the launch. They were sharing their excitement for this next stage in their life together. Soon after the party, they set off on a beautiful cruise in Europe to celebrate Cecil’s retirement and the wonderful things they would share together in life.
It would not be that simple. While on the cruise, Cecil began having issues with walking and his balance, which was out of the ordinary for him. He is tall, fit, and strong. Back in LA after the cruise, Cecil would meet with his doctors to find that a brain tumor was to blame and he was rushed into emergency surgery to remove the tumor. A second surgery was performed shortly thereafter as the tumor had spread. And not just any tumor. It’s growing, it’s aggressive … and it is considered incurable. And still, their Faith will not be deterred! I don’t know when I have ever witnessed a Faith as deep as Anita and Cecil share, and it is that very Faith and their Love that is empowering them and holding them through this painful journey. At times like this, our human minds must let go and turn everything over to God and our hearts and souls and realize there must be a larger purpose at hand. These two have captured the hearts of our newly named Forever Fierce: The Midlife Revolution community with their dedication to staying in a space of LOVE, relying on their Faith and one another.
One of our greatest blessings in times of adversity is Community. One of Cecil’s dreams after retiring was to build a lovely patio and pavilion on the back of their house to enjoy the evenings with his beautiful wife. So what did Cecil’s community of firemen do when they heard about that? They got together in 105 degree heat (Hey, they’re firemen!) and, over several days, planned and built that amazing patio and manifested Cecil’s dream!
It lifts my heart to see the response of our Forever Fierce community in support of Anita and Cecil. Julie Augustyn’s message to Anita and Cecil is “Anita and Cecil are such a beautiful couple! Their beauty radiates from within! They are so genuine and kind. I am blessed to have met them this past summer. Wishing only the best for you. I am holding you both close in my heart and mind. Prayers for strength and healing are coming your way!” Another lovely and supportive member of the Forever Fierce Team, Lesley Wolman, shared, “From my warm encounter with Anita, at the Fierce 50 get together, I learned that she is lit from within. Anita exudes beauty, elegance, and kindness. It is evident that she and Cecil have a rare bond incapable of being broken.” Jodie Filogomo, Co-Director of Bridging the Gap, has earned a reputation as one of the kindest and most dedicated members of our team. Jodie sends this message to Anita and Cecil, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9. She continues, “Anita and Cecil made our trip to LA so enjoyable!”
Anita has created a hashtag and uses her page to inspire what she calls “Team Cecil.” Here is the latest update on his condition:
“We spoke with the surgeon last night and the tumor is indeed growing again, and aggressively. He said it’s unusual because this type of tumor usually takes about a year to return. It is incurable but chemo and radiation can prolong the life of the patient for a time. We met his Oncologist from City of Hope and treatment will start as early as today. It’s gonna be a tough journey but the boys and I are ready to go through this with him and stand strong. My entire being–mind, body, and soul–has shifted into survival mode. I’m a warrior and I have a lot of fight in me. I can’t fight the physical portion of this for him, but I will do everything within my power to be the best support and encouragement for my husband. Cecil is actually handling this very well. We prayed together after the doctor left and he’s ready to battle for his life.
I know many of you are already praying for him, so PLEASE keep those prayers coming. I know a Man named Jesus, and if He says Cecil is healed, then Cecil is healed. He has the final Word. May His will be done. I accept His report and His answer. He is glorified, even NOW, in the midst of the most difficult time of our lives. The God I serve loves His people and nothing is able to separate them from His love. God is bigger, so much bigger than cancer. I choose to PRAISE God through this. I don’t have answers, but I do have Jesus, my firm foundation, my shield, my fortress, my light, my path, my help in times of trouble. Fear is so easy, but perfect LOVE casts out all fear. When I chose fear last night, God chose me, and wrapped me in His peace–the peace that surpasses all understanding. He has promised: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) This is the scripture I will use to combat fear. Speak God’s Word into the atmosphere and watch it give you life and peace–peace that can only be experienced, not explained. Thank you so much for praying for my husband!
Cecil said to tell everyone that he doesn’t want visitors right now. He wants to get through this first round of treatment. Thank you for honoring his request. We love you all and I’ll keep you updated. Let’s do this!!!#cemostrong #prayersforcemo.”
Nina Bandoni added her sentiments, “Anita is a powerful example of grace and faith in the face of adversity. She is the epitome of The Forever Fierce woman we should all aspire to be.” I sense many of us echo Nina’s lovely sentiments. As Anita has magnetized immense support within our community, Barbi Brooks wanted to share her heartfelt emotions, “From the moment I met Anita just a few short months ago, she has radiated such love and joy! Now watching her stand strong in faith with that same passion only confirms what a truly amazing, Fierce sister she truly is.” Clearly, Anita and Cecil’s pure hearts and compassionate ways have magnetized the support of this community. Anita will be missed as we move forward to “Bridge the Gap,” and to end all divisions, stereotypes, and labels. At a time like this especially, there is only room for LOVE. We ask the members of our community and the community at large to embrace their mission and join us in prayer together. My heart goes out to this lovely couple as they allow their Faith in a Higher Power to light the way through these difficult times. Anita & Cecil … know that we love you and you are in our prayers!