Tuesday, November 6, 2012

AVERYday: God Girl Extraordinaire - Part 2

By now you may have heard that Avery was referred to as a God Girl. [See also Delavan Enterprise article: God Girl goes home.) Once we heard the full Jamie Grace CD we were like "yep. That's Avery! She's a God Girl!"

Avery carried her bible with her always. And she read it everywhere. This summer she was a Mother's Helper and took her bible with to read from when the kids were napping or there was just some downtime to be had. She was not ashamed of her love for Jesus. (You see, Avery had WAY more faith than her mother. I have always had faith - but questioning, sometimes doubting and confused faith. Mine is the kind that I must work at. Avery's has always been an absolute, oozing from her pores, kind of faith.)

And Avery's faith extended far beyond the written pages of a book.

Avery had compassion. She felt compelled to help people. All people. She wanted to save the world through the knowledge of Jesus. "Mom," she began one afternoon when we were driving in the car. "I feel bad for people who don't know about Jesus. If they knew about Him they would know He loved them and they would never feel lonely or afraid."

She wanted to go on mission trips and preach God's Word. She wanted to help children in orphanages. She wanted to spread kindness and hope. She figured that if people knew Jesus there would be no more meanness, no more bullying, no more children sitting alone at lunch.

On October 12, 2012, Avery and I were invited to a tobyMac concert in Madison. Jamie Grace opened for tobyMac (whom Avery also adores!) and we were both thrilled! Jamie Grace is one of Avery's favorite Christian artists. Between artists, a preacher took to the stage and talked to the audience. He talked about how we often look at the people "ahead" of us in line and wonder why we can't have what they have, why we don't have it as good as them, why we have to be "way back here." But then he said that if we turned around and look at who was standing in line "behind" us, we would see scores of people who have no electricity. No schooling. No food. Children who were starving. God wants us to turn to those "behind" us in line and extend a hand to lift them up.

In the lobby were envelopes with the faces of children from various third world countries. Avery would NOT let me leave without first agreeing to sponsor a child. In fact, I tried to leave without sponsoring anyone. My cynical, doubting mind was telling me that no one really benefits from these types of organizations. You send in $30 a month and they might get sixteen cents. They spend their money on fancy paper and pictures of children who probably are models living in Ohio.

But Avery was adamant. And when Avery was adamant there was no letting go until what needed to get done got done.

And so, I dumped the rest of my cash in the envelope of the child she picked and filled out my address. I nodded, annoyed that I got suckered in to putting two twenty dollar bills into an envelope, as the kid behind the table explained that in a couple weeks we'd be receiving an informational packet that would tell us how to write to our new Sponsored Child, Alphonsine, from Rwanda.

Two days later Avery handed me a sealed envelope. "You need to mail this, Mom." It was addressed to Alphonsine. I tried to explain that we should first wait to get the informational packet. "But it's important, Mom." I smiled weakly and slipped the envelope into my purse. "I'll try to mail it tomorrow."

I never mailed it. For the last ten days of Avery's life she asked me about mailing that letter. She grew frustrated with my excuses. I didn't have time to get to the Post Office. I didn't have money for postage but I'd do it for sure tomorrow, I promised.

See, I was trying to protect her. I didn't want her to send something that wasn't right and then have to watch her heart break when it was returned. I didn't know if we had the right address. What if the letter never got to its intended recipient and Avery would spend months waiting for a reply? Also, I wasn't quite sure what she had written. This is a 15-year old girl who lives in a war torn country... Avery would have to be careful and sensitive to what she would write. It was something we should do together; something that I should help her with so she would do it right.

A week after Avery died I found myself alone, sobbing in my car, in the parking lot of Shopko. I had fled my house because I just couldn't take it anymore. I didn't know how to comfort everyone. I didn't know how to be strong for everyone.

I had a fiancé that spent every day of the last almost 6 years with Avery: sledding and swimming and playing catch and laughing and trying to convince me to go to McDonald's for dinner. He felt on the fringe of everything and not recognized for the love he had for Avery. I was trying to hold him up.

I had a daughter who felt imaginable grief and responsibility - who had little faith; who was angry; "If Avery loved God so much why would He do this to her? Why would He want her dead? Why would He take her away from everyone she loved so much? If God loves me why would he take my only sister away from me? I loved her!!!" I tried, but I couldn't answer her questions. I tried to console her and be strong for her but the whole time I just wanted to crawl under my blankets and disappear.

I had a toddler who was reverting back to baby talk and "only Mama do it." I tried to have patience ... he was so very, very close to Avery. He would run to her before he ran to me.

I felt defeated.

And so I sat in my car and wept. I cried out, "Oh, Avery! I am failing you! I don't know what to do! I'm trying to be strong for everyone but I don't know how! Help me, Avery! Please help me and tell me what to do!"

And then I looked in my purse and saw the envelope that had rested there for far too many days.

And I opened it.

Inside were two pencils, a pen, and a purple marker, along with a simple stationary card that had the letter "A" stamped on the front. I read my daughter's words:


“Dear Alphonsine,

My name is Avery! I am a girl! I live in Wisconsin, I’m 11 years old and in the 5th grade!
 
I am here with you always. I will always write to you! I will never forget about you. I will keep you in my heart forever!

Do you know Jesus!? Because I do and if you don’t know him I will share his word with you! I just want to share this verse to you and then I have to go to bed,

Psalm 121:
“I lift my eyes to the hills.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
Maker of Heaven and earth!”
 
Your Sponsorer (sic),
Avery”




... and here I had been worried that she wouldn't say the right thing....

THIS is just one of many examples I have of my God Girl. I believe that she had a purpose: to share the Word of Jesus. To bring people closer to God. To encourage people to be kind to one another. To be honest, I don't know where she got that from. Sure, I talked about being kind to others. And while I believe in God and go to church (sometimes) and to Bible Study (occasionally) --  it isn't a topic of conversation in our home. I can only say that God Himself made this child with that unwavering, absolute faith. That His plan for her is huge and beyond my feeble understanding. And I believe that her purpose and legacy will continue -- it is up to us, all of us, to share the story of Avery and her love for Jesus Christ.

Jamie Grace (feat. tobyMac): Hold Me



20 comments:

Heather Bush said...

I hope that you send that letter to Alphonsine. I hope that you also write her a letter and let her know how she came to be sponsored by you and Avery. Maybe you should just send this blog post to her. You are amazing and strong - even in your weakest moments. Praying for all of you.

St. Andrew Parish History Administrator said...

You were meant to read that letter. That's why you never mailed it. It was to you.

Tammy Sterken said...

You are such an amazing writer. You say the words so I can feel them deep inside. Again, I am smile-crying. She is still making everyone happy from up there! Keep writing Bridget - keep the memories alive!

Tina, said...

I am still praying for you each day. Hold on to your faith, Bridget.

Shanon Domenosky said...

I am honored to have read such inspirational words. Not only yours dear sweet Bridget but always those of your beautiful children. The measure of man & father in your fiance is hugely respected! Please know that this 'accident' has changed our family values as well as faith in drastic measure. God Bless you all with emense abundant peace & love.

ArtsyGruetz said...

I am keeping you and your family in my prayers, each and every day. I am so happy that you got to see that letter and you just hang on to your faith, because someday you be hugging your God Girl again.

Brenna said...

This is the best series I have ever read. You keep her alive, she keeps you going. It's clear she's going to impact this world for a very long time.

angie said...

Wow. If this isn't proof of God's love for you, I don't know what is. He will carry you. Amazing. Your testament is amazing.
p.s. GOD I wish there was something I could do to ease your pain. I simply cannot imagine your aching heart. So thankful for moments like this one to give you a glimpse into God's direction for you.

Amy Hennerley-McWilliam said...

My promise to you is that I am going to tell everyone about Jesus just like Avery did. And I am going to tell them about this special God Girl who taught me tha t faith and grace come from the heart and shine for all to see. I promise to make everyday an Averyday.

Johi Kokjohn-Wagner said...

I have no words. Love to you and your beautiful family. I think of you every day.

Anna See said...

Of this I am convinced, Love NEVER dies. Your God Girl is near you now and always will be. I know it's not the same as being able to hug her, oh how I know that, but she will never leave you.

After Jack died, we had to write our Compassion sponsor kids and tell them what happened. It seemed so weird to me that for all those years we prayed for those "less fortunate" children around the world, but Jack was the one who died.

Ellen said...

Yes, you were meant to hold onto that letter and to read it just when you did.

Dear Avery...she has sent you a gift that while painful is a comfort. Her legacy will live on by the example she set and left.

What a beautiful daughter and family you have. The days ahead will not be easy. Grief hits in it's own timing...hug often, talk, and remember Avery for the joy she gave.

mistyslaws said...

What a beautiful way to pay tribute to your girl. Her essence shines through in your description and anecdotes.

You are entirely entitled to your moments of grief. As women, I think we do try to support everyone around us and be the strong ones, forcing down our own emotions at the time. I'm glad you receieved that release and the message from Avery in your time of need. I'm sure she will always be with you and will be a guide in your life.

Sue @ Laundry for Six said...

I do believe that although we can see things only in the here and now, there is so much more than that, that we can't understand and maybe only occasionally get glimpses of... Avery is still working and ministering and loving. That I know.

I'm glad you didn't mail the letter because you needed it more than Alphonsine. And Avery knows that now too.

Tammy Northrup said...

I don't really know what to say because any words that are uttered sound too little or hollow. But, I couldn't leave your page without telling you how sorry I am that you are going through this but how happy I am that you had such a blessing in your life. Thank you for sharing Averys story with us.

Tammy

THE LETTS FAMILY said...

I agree with your Parish Administrator. That message was to you. You didn't send it, because it needed to be with you at that very moment. The message is so clear. When you are so overwhelmed, you don't know how you are going to go on, just look up and remember that God will carry you through. I don't believe in "God" the way most people do, but I do believe that we are all connected in this Universe and because of that, when one of us feels unbelievable desperation, there will be a sign. The only thing you have to do is find the strength to see it. The Universe/Nature/God (all the same thing to me) will give you EXACTLY what you need, even if it isn't exactly what you want. But in a way, probably, what you wanted more than anything in that moment, was Avery. You opened your purse, and there she was - not her physical body, but her spirit, her energy, her heart (again, all connected and the same to me.) Sending you love and strength Bridget.

Kaili Kachel said...

I thank you so much for writing about this terrible event that has taken place. My prayers go out to you and your family members. This story made me bawl. It sounds like your little Avery was an angel chosen by God to come to earth and share her love for Jesus. I think the message from the way Avery lived her life is so important and so valuable. Please continue telling her story for all the believers and non-believers. Her story really hits home and expresses the pure love and hope we can have in Jesus. I know He is with you during this rough time along with Avery. The one idea I ask that you ponder is if you would someday write a book. Your writing is amazing and I think telling Avery's story would be a blessing to all those who read it.

THE LETTS FAMILY said...

I haven't been able to get this song out of my head since I read this post. Yesterday Mia says, "I don't like to hold lava. It hot!"

Christine Wright said...

What an incredible post. Your daughter, that story, your writing, it's all beautiful beyond words. A God Girl's gift - only this won't be her last one, I'm certain.

Cheryl Ricker said...

Oh my goodness. Yes, what love the Father has for you. I'm praying for you through your grieving process. Just know that your God girl is up there cheering you on... pleased with how you're glorifying God. Way to go in putting one foot in front of the other and ministering to those around you. We're all on a journey... moving in the same direction. And God bless your family. I look forward to meeting each of you some day.