This past weekend Brooklan and I participated in The Nathan Project 5K (which I will tell more about later). I say 'participated in' bc we didn't just run...we didn't just walk...we did both...and I stopped to take some beautiful pictures, too. :) We were able to do it with some good friends and it was such a beautiful day. It was a chilly early morning, but turned out to be absolutely gorgeous. For the past few weeks Brooklan has been doing a running club that some teacher volunteers at her school have been putting on after school on Thursdays.--A great way for kids to stay active, enjoy each other, and, in my opinion, take in God's beautiful creation as they run outside. :) After praying about it, we felt led to use some of Avelyn's memorial funds to help fund the t-shirts they get for kiddos and staff doing the running club. We feel the running club has been a way to allow kids to 'Let Their Light Shine.' :) We were able to put our website on the back of the t-shirts in hopes that others would visit Avelyn's site and be encouraged to know Christ, if they don't already, OR for those who already know Christ, to Let Their Light Shine so others may see Christ in them. The Nathan Project race on Saturday was a race that several kids from the running club participated in...It was such a blessing to see all the BRIGHT yellow t-shirts with Avelyn's website on the back.
Besides running with Brooklan and friends and enjoying God's beautiful weather, the best thing about being there was meeting Nathan Stiles' family. Nathan was a young man from Spring Hill who passed away four years ago after suffering a concussion in a high school football game.--He was a 17 year-old high school senior, homecoming king, his team's captain and quarterback, and most importantly a man who loved Christ. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I was told by a friend at church last Sunday that he was always full of so much joy and just a 'joy' to be around. It was so helpful to meet his family. I met his mom, older sister, and spoke to his dad for quite awhile on different occasions before and after the race. He asked me to share Avelyn's story with him and he shared some of the things they have been able to do, with God's help, since Nathan passed. Their mission has been to get as many people's hands on a Bible as possible.--All the money they raise goes to buying Bibles and getting them in the hands of others. He shared that they have been blessed to pass out over 14,000 Bibles thus far. One of Nathan's lifelong goals was to help his friends find God, and thus came about the Nathan Project after he passed. Nathan's dad was able to share with me some wonderful stories about sharing God's grace and the gospel of Christ with others. The picture I have posted here, I took during the race. I see a cross with the sun shining bright at the center, just like our logo for Avelyn. Amazing. It made me see and feel Nathan and Avelyn from above - watching all of us run, Letting Our Light Shine, as they Shone down on us. For the past few weeks, I have felt led to possibly start a race for Avelyn. A dear friend gave us this idea and has graciously offered to help us with it. After running in The Nathan Project race and speaking with his family, I have been inspired even more to try to pull this off. We would love to have the race every year during the first week of May...so this next year would be the FIRST Annual Let Your Light Shine Family Walk/Run, celebrating what would be Avelyn's FIRST birthday.--Another landmark we will face - near her 1st birthday, but will be faced in a much better 'Light' as we walk or run, Letting Our Light Shine for her, for Christ, as they watch from above - as we try to give all glory to His name.
In my Beth Moore 1 & 2 Thess. Bible study this week, one of the studies was on hope in grief. Studying this has helped me put into words why I have been able to get through the past few months. In 1 Thess 4:13 Paul states that we do not want "to grieve like the rest who have no hope." This puts into words why I have gotten through; it's solely because my hope is in the One who lives. As Beth Moore states, "we can be whole again piece by piece" if we have HOPE in our grief. Without my faith in Christ, knowing Christ, I would most definitely feel hopeLESS. And as Beth states, "nothing is like hopelessness...you feel dead while wide awake." Wow, so true. In a Bible study I did about a year ago, Robyn, the leader of our study, gave a great definition of hope; she said it is confident expectation in something good...and that hope should replace fear. This is how I have gotten through. Because I know Christ, because I know Avelyn is resting in His arms & dancing with Him, and because "God works for the good of those who love Him," I have a confident expectation in something good, replacing any fear I may have about the unknown. I pray you, my dear friend, my family, have this hope, as well. As it states in Psalm 31:24 "Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord." Dear My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, thank you for the HOPE you give me. Please help me continue to be filled with Your hope as I slowly become 'whole again, piece by piece.' Please continue to "guide me in Your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in You ALL DAY LONG" (Psalm 25: 5).
Nathan's story: On facebook, search 'The Nathan Project'
Avelyn's story: www.LetYourLight-Shine.com