The day to day, comical happenings and sweet moments from my life as a nanny.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Life is Precious

My heart has been so heavy.

For those of you who are new to reading my blog (I had an old one here if you want to read more back stories from me) I also work with our incredible youth group when I am not playing the role of nanny. Our youth are just amazing and we finish up every week by meeting in small groups and we dive into each other's lives.

 My wonderful roommate and best friend, Jenna (you're sure to hear more about her later)  is my co-leader and we have a girl in our group whose family has been walking a very hard path. Their 12 year old son was battling a brain tumor and as we got to hear their story and walk alongside his older sister, Alyssa, we were constantly being inspired and challenged to be living life with more purpose everyday.
    You see, her brother Matt was one of the most selfless people I have ever had the honor of hearing about. He was a twelve year old child...who had to go in and be poked, prodded and put through things no human being should ever go through...but instead of taking pity on himself (which he had every right to) he would make baked goods for the nurses, spread his sense of humor and share his radiant smile. (Go here to get a glimpse at his contagious humor-

     As a youth leader you can show emotion, but for the most part you have to hold it together for the sake of the students you are leading and be strong for them...but I cannot tell you how many nights I would go home having heard Alyssa share the stories about her brother and her family and ask myself, "What am I doing with my life?" "How am I showing love to those around me?" "How many times have I complained about stupid little things...just today?"  It has been a humbling journey and although Jenna and I have had the honor of walking this journey with her...Alyssa and her family will never fully know how much of an impact they have left on my life...simply by sharing their story and sharing sweet Miracle Matt's story.

About a month ago Matt faced the last length of his race. He won...but not in the way that everyone here wanted him to win. Nonetheless....he won his race.

It is a night I will not forget, for many reasons.

     I will say that the next few days and the weeks since then, I have been challenged and amazed, hearing Matt's story and watching as his sweet family tries to process life without him here on earth...their faith and raw hurt. As outsiders looking in,  we are all changed forever, touched, and inspired by the life Matt lived...but I cannot imagine never hugging my little brother again. It's one of those moments where you want to trust God and know that He has a greater plan...but you wonder...why?  why a twelve year old little boy?

Life is precious.
No one is promised tomorrow.
What are you doing with your life here on earth?

   On Tuesday I received some shocking news that a young girl that used to be in the dance class I taught for several years, was killed in a car accident.

She was only 17 years old.

She was a joy to everyone and lived a life full of encouragement and optimism. I haven't had contact with her since I graduated High School and headed out to college, but I look back and can't remember a moment that she didn't make me smile....even when she was goofing off in class....she just had a gift for touching people's lives with her joy and humor. From hearing stories in the last few days from her friends...things didn't change...she is remembered as a light and a joy.  I still remember the first time I met her and her little sister...I was tagging along with my friend while she babysat...Lizzie was only four years old and even then I remember her as a spunky, joyful girl.

She has left behind so many questioning why such a young, outgoing girl would be given such a short life here on earth...she has left behind a family grieving with empty arms. A girl who no longer has her big sister to turn to. Why?

Life is precious.
No one is promised tomorrow.
What are you doing with your life here on earth?

I cannot give an fact I ask these same questions...Why him God? Why that family? Why her? Why just driving around her home town? 

I could say the same thing for so many of my sweet friends here who are left with an empty cradle or a gap in their family....It's something that I feel there are no set answers to...I can say..."trust that God is in control"..."it's all in His will"....which it is...but that doesn't take away the hurt.

We may not be able to take away the hurt or answer the hard questions, but we can make sure that those short lives were not in vain. It is through hurt that we know how to love.  I've really been learning this watching our sweet group of girls in youth group. It's through their stories of hurt and their willingness to share with each other that they have started discovering raw community and purpose in their individual journeys.

   Matt lived more life and loved more people in his short life than most people who live to die of old age. That kid touched lives across the world...he touched my life...

We can simply remember them and know that they lived and loved well...OR we can be challenged...

Life is precious.
We are not promised tomorrow.
What are you doing today?
How did you treat the lady at Starbucks this morning?
Did you share a smile with your cashier at the grocery store?
Are you someone people describe as joyful? Loving well?
Are you giving life to those around you....or draining it?

These are the questions I have been asking myself more lately as I grieve with these families...and I'm sad to say...most of the time I am too easily caught up in the petty frustrations of the day. The person in front of me is driving too slow, the lady at the gas station was too snotty, the kids were about to make me pull my hair out today...etc.  Instead of stepping out of my own tiny, selfish world and stopping to can I serve this person? What are THEY going through? How would me putting a smile on and acting out of gentleness change the entire aspect of this situation?
What impact am I leaving?
Am I loving well?
Am I serving?
Not just serving when I go on mission trips or I truly, selflessly, serving the people I come in contact with every day?

I want to be more like Miracle Matt. I want to have the joy that Lizzie spread. I want to share my story like Alyssa. I want to use my story like my youth girls do.

I don't want to live the life I have been given in vain.

What are you doing?
What legacy are you leaving?
How are you going to be remembered?

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