Cleansing through tears

Dear Elliot,

In just a few days we will hit the 1 year mark since your last day on this earth. Only, it’s Elliotwkiddosgoing to be a day like any other in the last 365 days of grief.

Every day people come to the blog and read the posts as I processed through those days of uncertainty. Your story of unwavering faith in the face of unthinkable sorrow is reaching others and will forever be shared. Every day I am able to pray for Chris, Wyatt and Bradford as you are in and out of my thoughts.

I was telling someone your story the other day. I don’t even remember how it came up? I didn’t cry. I was very matter of fact. I haven’t cried in a long time.

What I have been is angry. Not at God. At cancer…at the treatments used…at the what~ifs. I’ve been too angry to cry. But today I watched this video about a 17-year-old boy named Zach and the legacy he left behind when he passed away on May 20, 2013 (his story is documented below.) I slid down into the place between the overstuffed chair and the wall of windows and I wept.

I made up for months of no tears. It’s the same spot I sat more than a year ago and begged God for a miracle. It was my go to place when things overwhelmed me. I haven’t sat there since last year while talking to Elisabeth on the phone a few days before you died and knowing what need not be said.

El, my chest has literally ached for days. My heart hurts. Though I will never know how widespread your influence has been, it is vast. I do not understand the ways of our mysterious God. I don’t even know how to finish the letters I’ve started writing to Wyatt and Bradford.

What I know for certain is that I don’t want to find out I’m dying to really start living. I want to live. I want to love until it heals. Laugh until my sides hurt and my lips shake. Dance around my living room until I’m out of breath. Drink in the sunlight, feel summer raindrops on my skin. I want to live, El. You taught me that.

I want to dream big
Never stop seeking
Brag on a God who is beyond explanation
Reach the unreachable
Believe in Heaven
Heal the hurting
Capture beauty and give it away
I want to know when this day is done that I am more than satisfied with the goings on.

I want to play more
Give more
Sing more
Pray more

I know you wouldn’t wish anger for any of us left here to grieve. Every time I see a “sky cross” I grasp the visual evidence that God gives me the strength I need when I need it.

I love you friend. Thank you for living with such grace and beauty. Thank you for showing everyone who witnessed your courage during illness that God is good even when it doesn’t feel like it and he has a plan and a purpose for our lives.

Blessings and Light,
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Related Posts:
Saying Goodbye
A Tribute to Elliot

For the Volunteer

Dear Volunteer,

I am a mother of 3 and have experienced every children’s ministry environment offered at Buckhead Church. I was watching Large Group in Waumba Land Sunday morning when years of memories came flooding in. As the children raised their hands in worship, I was overcome with gratitude.

I wish I had thanked you sooner. Only, I didn’t have the words. On this day, while standing in the back watching men and women, with busy lives, volunteer to surround our preschoolers with truth and light, the words came faster than I could process them.

UpStreet, thank you for welcoming and ushering in my 7-year-old with bed head and a half eaten pop tart in his hand. Little did you know, just 5 minutes before, I was sitting in my car contemplating not coming in. You removed the weight of the world in those few moments at check-in.

Transit, thank you for sacrificing your time to my confused middle schooler (now in high school) not only on Sunday, but for retreats, special outings and all the texts/calls/emails in-between when you were the only voice of reason. In those times when my words fell on deaf ears, yours were heard, felt and followed. You didn’t know that the weeks leading up to boot camp she had contemplated suicide. Thank you for praying that prayer with her on the last night of camp. You were able to speak hope in a way that I couldn’t. I wonder how many souls have been saved because of your investment?

Waumba Land, thank you for greeting my child with a warm smile at the door when he had arms crossed, furrowed brow and feet firmly planted outside the room. Thank you for playing referee when he was “the runner.” And the times you took his hand while looking at my worried face and said, “Go to service mom. We will be just fine here” as he screamed and kicked, were the days I got the most from the message. You didn’t know this, but when my alarm went off that morning I hit snooze and strongly considered staying in bed. Your interactions with my child motivated me to get up and out even when it felt like staying home was avoiding a battle.

Host Team, thank you for making sure I don’t get lost in the crowd. I have been attending for years but there was a Sunday, last year, when I must have looked lost because several of you welcomed me and asked if you could help me find where I was going. “No thanks.” was my response, but the fact that you took notice and offered to help meant so much. You didn’t know this but the next day my 36-year-old friend passed away 9 months after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She left behind a husband and two small children my kids ages. We had grown up together and I felt like part of my childhood was buried with her that day.

Parking Team, if maintaining a highly functioning team of hundreds to get people in and out of one of the busiest areas in Atlanta was an Olympic sport, you would, without a doubt, take the gold. Thank you for showing up, rain or shine, putting on a vest and a smile and waving your flashing wand. You may not know that more than once I have tried to use the excuse of “traffic” and my preschooler would say, “Mommy, can the ninjas in orange vests with lightsabers show us where to park?” What can I say to that? Out of the mouth of babes…

Facilities and clean up crew. Thank you doesn’t even seem close to appropriate. Wow, you have a tough job and you do it seamlessly. Without you, no other environment would function and thrive.

I know you hear how much you are appreciated from those in leadership. It’s one way I’ve rationalized not writing to you. I’m just a face among many. There are thousands just like me. Unfortunately, we avoid writing letters like this one because of fear. The fear that I will leave someone or something out. The fear of not saying what I really feel…of not being able to wrap words around the impact you have had and continue to have on the lives of those you don’t even know. The next few sentences sum up the essence of this letter.

You need to know that, because of you, my life is better. My children are better. My family is better. Don’t you see, your commitment to show up week after week is changing the world outside our door. It’s enriching lives and encouraging families towards each other instead of away. What you’re doing is being the change that most only talk about and rarely do. You are leading by example and because of that, people are being reached in ways that would not have been possible were it not for your decision to serve.

Evermore thank you. From the depths of my heart….I am truly grateful.

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