Yes, the rumors are true. I can confirm I was indeed left speechless earlier this month — not only once but twice. Many were shocked to witness the historic events.
Editor Bob Terry and The Alabama Baptist staff get all the credit as they found a way to surprise me with a feature article and a party celebrating my 20th anniversary with Alabama’s state Baptist newspaper. And if that weren’t special enough, I also received calls, emails, letters, texts, Facebook posts, tweets, video messages, gifts and personal appearances by friends and family from various parts of the state, across the nation and around the world.
It is still hard for me to believe all of that was done for me. I remain speechless and thank all of you for honoring me the way you did.
I know that finding me speechless once, much less several times, is hard to believe, especially for the number of you who referred to my “gift of gab” in the notes you wrote. And you know me well, I do like to talk — a lot.
But 2016 has discovered a more contemplative version of me so far. Along with the celebratory moments, another anniversary struck other emotions.
Marking the date
January 17 marked one year since my young niece and goddaughter Belle Mitchell left us for heaven (to read more about her cancer journey, visit the “Snapshots of Belle” category here on rashionalthoughts.com).
It is true what the grief experts say — you do adapt and learn to live without the person you are missing — but the ache of missing him or her lives on. I’m not sure I realized the degree of how much I missed Belle would actually increase with time but it is happening. I find myself continually needing a hug from her, wanting desperately to hear her laugh and/or wishing for one more silly moment with her.
Still I hold on to what others have shared with me — each day we live is one day closer to being with her again. And each day we have an opportunity to do great things for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can choose to tackle each day and make a difference for the Kingdom or we can fall into a pit and let the enemy convince us we are not able to keep moving.
Believe me, I’ve fallen into the pit a few times and some days I might have been easily convinced to stay there, but every time a friend or family member came along and pulled me out, reminding me to keep my eyes on Jesus.
Again, I am overwhelmed with the love surrounding me, and I am convicted to not take it for granted nor overlook others who might slip past our gaze and be falling further and further into their own pit.
The lyrics in Sidewalk Prophets’ “Save My Life” touch on this point:
“… You come here every Friday night; I take your order and try to be polite; And hide what I’ve been going through;
“If you looked me right in the eye; Would you see the pain deep inside; Would you take the time to;
“Tell me what I need to hear; Tell me that I’m not forgotten; Show me there’s a God. …”
Belle taught me how to love unconditionally (consistently showing grace, mercy and forgiveness while also showing others there is a God), live life to its fullest (despite the obstacles that undoubtedly will appear in your path) and laugh as much as possible (even amid the pain and fear). She knew how to celebrate life — and I want to be like Belle when I grow up.
—Jennifer Davis Rash (aka Aunt Jen Jen)