"Kendall is going skiing in Utah and she took the t-shirt because... 'it says so much' ".
"I wore my Go Light the World t-shirt to school today. A third grade girl commented how pretty my shirt was and proceeded to read it out loud. I could see her thinking about he words, tilting her head as she looked at me. She smiled and said, 'You do light the world.' I thanked her and quickly walked away pushing back tears. I was both humbled and challenged."
"Got my shirt, love it - thanks for mailing it. Also, I wanted to tell you not in a boasting way at all, but hopefully it will lighten your heart for a moment, wrap my arms around you and share my joy in giving. [My husband] and I have been blessed with extra money and are sending [generous amount] in Taylor's honor, to Costa Rica with the Rejoice School Spanish class mission trip in March. [The teacher] takes 8 select students each year. She's a fab teacher and reminds me of you. I told her to use the money how she sees fit. Divide it or give it to one student who is short money. I asked that our name be omitted, but she will share the card with kids. Taylor is not forgotten and I love you so, so much."
"Got my shirt. Love you."
"Hi friend! Got my shirt today! Thank you!"
"I will wear it with pride."
"Can't wait to wear the shirt. It's a great conversation about the light of the world."
"Got my shirt in the wash so I can wear it tomorrow. So proud to be a part of the fan club."
"Hope and I just gave Haley her present :) She cried and I cried! She said, "I love Taylor."
As much as I was overwhelmed by the dreariness of a rainy day, the words of friends act as an overwhelming reminder of God's grace.
Jill, my ever talented and very beautiful cousin, created the canvas last November. I use it as my Facebook profile picture each November in honor of Taylor. Folks wanted a t-shirt with the print on it - so Jill, a mother of three very busy kids, made that happen too, and in the end, it seems as though the shirt and the phrase (which is really God's, not mine - see Matthew 5 or John 8) seems to be bringing joy to others as they give - in big and small ways.
I am under no illusion that Taylor was perfect; I probably know better than anyone that she wasn't and I, more than anyone, have the distinct memory of nagging (one of my imperfections) her about those imperfections. Nevertheless, I always felt so very blessed to be her mama, to watch her grow, to marvel at her talent, her intellect, her sass, her wit, her messy room, her indignant attitude. As her mom, I knew best the capacity she held to share, to lead, to grow others. Borrowing from social media trends and creating a hashtag just made it less of a nagging reminder and more of a hip encouragement - at least that was my intent.
Some of my former students now use the phrase with their daughters. I use it when I read or hear of a person pouring him or herself into others - not because of Taylor - but because we all have this God given light, gifts that we need to share. Sometimes it takes bravery; sometimes it takes generosity; sometimes it takes empathy and dedication. Sometimes it takes conviction-
That we could have learned these lessons and experienced this kind of love without losing Taylor....
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Words and scripture about suffering have crossed my path often this week, tormenting me at times because my faith is not something upon which I can only partially partake. I have asked "why" a thousand times knowing surely there would only be silence and knowing confidently that good will come -
even in the pain,
even in the suffering,
even though I don't understand,
even though I feel punished.
I can't say that I am 'boasting' in my weakness; I think I am still asking, pleading that it should leave me. However, I can see his Grace raining down.
I see His grace in one of the devotions I read. It describes God's power in heaven and on earth - the power to calm the oceans or move the wind but with us, in our pain, He is tender: tender like a winter rain, tender like a third grader's gentle words - "but you do light the world", tender like the words, "Taylor is not forgotten", tender like the mountain flowers my sister captured in the photo at the top of this post, tender like Jill's sweet heart that created the canvas we all love so much..
Thank you for sharing your light, the light you were given to those who shared that joy with me and to those who have not but who light the world anyway. I just wanted to make sure this child I was given shared with others what she had been given - and you continue to make that happen.
Love wins and light reigns.