I am writing today with a heavy heart, anticipating the events that will occur in a matter of hours, and praying for the family of sweet Julia. There really aren’t appropriate words at a time like this, only the promise of Hope that we can hold to, for a secure eternity because of what Christ has done for us. Yet, even though my words don’t seem adequate, my heart yearns to just honor Julia by remembering her life.
You see, I first met Julia almost 5 years ago when we moved to Tampa and my husband and I began teaching with the children’s ministry at FBCTT on Wednesday evenings. I remember her wheeling in with the biggest smile; in fact, I would say she was one of those individuals that could light up any place, whenever she entered. Despite the difficulties that challenged her daily life, she lived with a constant joy that was contagious. She laughed with such expression, she talked with such conviction and boy did that girl love Jesus!
Beyond my time with Julia at church, I also had the privilege of capturing her in front of the camera several times. The first was a surprise for her incredible mother Lisa. I blogged about my experience with her and her older sister Hannah:
“I was humbled as I watched Hannah gently lift and carry Julia to different locations in the gardens, so she could ‘pose without her wheels.’ The love and devotion lived out by this example of selflessness inspired me. Smiles captivated me that afternoon in ways I had never imagined. Laughter ringing through the air mesmerized me. You see, joy speaks in the simplest of ways. Hope, gives even those with heavy hearts moments to sparkle and shine. Faith, holds us tightly and allows us to know there is a greater purpose though momentarily we might not even see it.”
I left that photo shoot inspired to do something bigger, to dream of something larger and to pursue it knowing that only the Lord could pave the way for it to become a reality. Julia was the beginning of that dream and today, as I read those words from almost 2 years ago, they tug at my heart in ways I couldn’t have imagined they would when I typed them.
Joy, hope, faith… all things that today, as we come together to celebrate Julia’s, life, will provide comfort. I can see Julia now- “without her wheels” dancing down the streets of Heaven. She’s healed from her struggles and she’s sitting with her Creator.
And you know what, I can say with confidence this is what Julia would desire for each of us- to place our trust in Christ and to live for Him no matter what.
So today sweet Julia, I will remember and celebrate you with hundreds of people, but in the days to come I will not forget either. I will remember your smile, your joy, your peace, your laugh and your love- that beautiful love for Jesus that spilled right out of your abundant heart and poured out to everyone who knew you.
Thank you Julia for the impact you have had on my life!
All my love,
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1