Skip to main content

AVERYday: How Will You Answer if He Calls?

Avery might have only been 11, but she had very specific plans.

She was going to read scripture in church. And play the piano before services began. And help out in Sunday School. And, also, maybe she could help in the kitchen for coffee hour. (She liked helping out in the kitchen.)

She was going to go on mission trips with her youth group, hoping to cuddle orphans and tell young children all about Jesus. (She'd build houses if she had to, but she'd rather work with the little kids.)

She was going to go to college at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, stay in a dorm with her best friend, Katie and compete on the gymnastics team. (Katie's mom was going to send care packages full of chocolate chip cookies and soda.)

After college, she was going to travel to Haiti and save everyone. Because there was this awful earthquake in Haiti and for a while everyone helped... but then the help sort of faded away and Avery was going to make sure that she would go to finish everything that still needed help.

She was going to work in orphanages. Playing with children. Rocking them. Reading to them. Talking to them about Jesus. And I could come to visit her.

In fact, Avery was going to tell everyone about Jesus because, she surmised, "if people knew about Jesus, then they wouldn't feel lonely or afraid anymore."

Avery would tell me of her plans and I would smile. Because she was young and her thoughts were simple and surely she would change her mind a thousand times before she grew up.

Except God didn't want her to change her mind. Or her heart.

This little girl, who would never grow old, would hold Jesus in her heart for ever and ever.

My daughter saw her world as one where Christ reigned with simple rules: be kind. Help others. And, above all, tell people about God.

I received an email a few weeks after Avery's death: "you are Avery's voice; don't silence her." It was a lot of responsibility and kind of scared me, yet I found that the more I told people about who Avery was, what she believed in, about the faith that held her tight, the more my sorrow lifted and joy flooded in.

I spent the minutes, days and weeks after her death repeating Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Those words ran through my head, coursed their way through my veins, encouraged my heart to keep beating.

I can do ALL things... all things? Even this, Lord? Yes. All things. Even this.

Soon, an idea to me. But I shook it away. Yet it kept coming back. Uninvited, it would meet me around corners, before sleep, upon waking, staring back at me in the mirror. I've never "heard" God's voice; not as an actual voice...but for some reason, this idea wouldn't leave me. Was this what people meant when God showed them signs? Or led them to something specific? That tugging of the heartstrings - was that God?

Lord, I'm sorry, but you're mistaken. I'm not cut out for this. I'm ornery and sarcastic. I swear too much and watch R-rated movies. I don't like people.

You do, too, like people. You're just anxious and awkward about meeting them. Stop with the excuses. This is what I am calling you to do.

I went to my sister with this ridiculous idea.

What if we found a way to keep Avery's voice alive? What if we continued to do all the things she wanted to do, but can't do, but other people can do? What if we could find a way to support mission trips? Especially those to Haiti? She loved Haiti. What if we could figure out a way to tell people about Jesus through her love of reading? Donate Christian books to her school or to the library? What if we could find ways - fun, exciting ways, to tell people about Jesus, to plant seeds of faith?

Instead of thinking it was a ridiculous idea my sister only shrugged, "what took you so long?"

Before I knew it, my friend Ginger, my sister Shannon, and I were huddled around a crowded kitchen table, laptops lit, pencils scribbling notes on paper, lists growing as long as my arm.

I turned around and a long-lost classmate of mine was filing necessary paperwork and researching how to do things legally.

I blinked and my cousin had designed an amazing logo. This amazing logo:



And that was it. AVERYday Ministries was born.

Now, the hard work begins. I am filled with worry and doubt and anxieties. Do I even know what I am doing? What if I fail Avery? What if, what I imagine never comes to fruition? What's worse: creating all this only to have it flop? Or not trying at all?

I can do all things.... ALL THINGS... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Even this. Yes, even this.

Feel free to "like" us on Facebook at: AVERYday Ministries

And follow us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/AVERYdayTweets

Comments

Becca said…
A WONDERFUL tribute to your sweet girl. I am inspired by your ability to turn your grief into joy and passion. I think of you often.
Tina, said…
That's awesome! Remember Moses was not a good speaker, when I read your words it reminded me of reading about Moses and how he questioned God. Was God sure He wanted Moses to speak on behalf of His people. Avery lives in so many of us already, even those of us who never actually met her, and all through you and your writing about her. You are an inspiration.
angie said…
so INCREDIBLY proud and in awe of you for hearing and following God's voice. you're amazing! cheers to wonderful blessings to come.

Popular posts from this blog

The House that God Built

in·stan·ta·ne·ous /ˌinstənˈtānēəs/ adjective 1. occurring or done in an instant or instantly.
synonyms: immediate, instant, on-the-spot







The thing is, she died so sudden.
I didn't have the chance to plead with God, to make all the irrational promises. If he would just let her be okay.... I would start taking better care of my health. I would be nicer to the neighbor that drove me crazy. I would always let someone else go in front of me at Walmart no matter how long the line was. I wouldn't complain. Ever. I would volunteer at the Homeless Shelter. I would clean up after pigs. I would clip the toenails of the elderly. I would do anything and everything He would ask me to do....
There is a box on her death certificate that captures the amount of time between the initial injury and the time of death. It reads "seconds." I wish it read "instantaneous" because she deserves a clever word like that.
Fast forward five years.... definitely taking MUCH longer than "…

Seeing Avery All Grown Up

One day I'll tell you about the freezing cold we left and the heavy bags we lugged, full of supplies and medicines. I'll tell you about arriving in Port au Prince and walking across a cracked concrete parking lot to board an old school bus with a flat tire. How the heat was suffocating after months of below zero Wisconsin winter weather, how the people crowded and walked too close to moving traffic as we searched for a tire shop that was barely more than a couple men sitting on overturned 5-gallon buckets on the side of the road next to a pile of old tires, everything covered in dirt.

I'll tell you about waiting on the bus while they removed the tire and I'll recall the loud explosion that rocked the bus and scared the life out of me and how I was relieved to learn it was just the tire blowing after being filled too far. (They didn't have any gauges.) And then I'll tell you about the fear I felt when I realized we didn't have a tire and we were stuck on th…

When Your Imagined Life is Nothing Like This One

There were so many ways I imagined my adult life would be....THIS is not one of them.
I posted that on my Facebook wall last night. It might have been seen as funny except my choice of hashtags gave me away:
treading water getting nowhere piles of disappointment not many successes worn out and exhausted out of options

I always imagined my life would be thrilling. Full of exciting adventures and people from all over the world. I would dine at Ethiopian, Thai, and Indian restaurants. I would write books, teach English, coach forensics and direct the play. My husband would be charming and funny and not care about gender roles when it came to household chores. He would beg for at least six kids and I would fall in love with him all over again each time I caught him giving good life advice.
I would take photographs and travel the world documenting the people I came across. I would adopt a sibling group of three or maybe four and work on foster care policies because the ones we have aren't work…