A couple of weeks ago when I was at Disney World, I received a Facebook message from one of my late husband, Andrew’s, friends from high school and college. It moved me to tears and after receiving permission from this friend I wanted to share parts of his powerful message with you.
He begins, “What Andrew did for me without me even realizing it at the time was make me a stronger Christian. Even though I wasn’t a strong Christian then, the seed he planted has grown over the years when I think back to our conversations.” He vulnerably shared how selfish he felt when Andrew was diagnosed with cancer and he didn’t come see him. He told me it was too hard to see his friend that way and that wasn’t how he wanted to remember Andrew. He said he struggled to forgive himself for not being physically there.
At Andrew’s funeral, he made the decision to dedicate himself to an organization Andrew would be proud of and to dedicate everything he did in Andrew’s name. So he started volunteering with a group called Sky High for St. Jude. He said, “I know Andrew is watching because in a short time I’ve gone from a volunteer to a board member and have been completely consumed by it.” His wife is now involved in the cause with him.
He continued, writing:
As my son grows and he asks me why we dedicate our time to this [cause], I can’t wait to tell him about Andrew. Andrew was a great friend and an even better man. I never got to thank him for what he did for me. I tear up every time my wife reads The Ellie Project to our son. Those are Andrew’s words and they are helping raise my son. At the board retreat for this organization they asked me why [my wife and I] were there and what [our] cause was. I told them, ‘I’m here to honor Andrew.’
I was with Andrew’s parents at Disney World when I received Andrew’s friend’s message and I shared it with them. Andrew’s dad watched this young man grow up with his son and he said Andrew probably had no idea he was such a positive influence in this man’s life.
I’ve received many powerful and impactful messages just like this one about how Andrew’s life made a difference. Having been married to Andrew, I know his heart was always to encourage, inspire, and empower those in his life. I know he had seasons when he thought he failed (which I knew wasn’t true). Getting to hear these stories since his passing and knowing how much his friend’s message would mean to him fills my heart with pride and gratitude.
Today I wanted to challenge and encourage you to reach out via phone call, letter, email, or in whatever way you feel compelled, and connect with someone who has positively impacted your life. Tell them how they’ve influenced you and share the ways your life is better because of their example. I will do the same. So many times I think about the individuals who’ve influenced me, but rarely do I share what having them in my life has meant to me. I sometimes even assume they know how I feel about them, but the truth is that’s not always the case. Think about who that is for you, then thank them and bless them with your story the way this man blessed Andrew’s family and me. Let’s not let the opportunity pass us by. It may be exactly what someone needed to hear! Blessings and Love.
PS – So fired up after speaking at my college alma mater this past weekend! Do you or someone you know have a group in need of an inspirational speaker? If you want me to come speak about my journey and sign some Ellie Project books, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My presentation is powerful, inspirational, and about living your legacy today! It’s good for men and women, corporate groups, mom’s groups, Bible Study groups, community groups, etc. I am excited to come share this powerful message with you!
PPS – Are you searching for new, fun, and meaningful ways to connect with a child in your life? Share the gift of building lifetime character lessons for each letter of the alphabet with The Ellie Project! To get your copy of The Ellie Project or The Ellie Project Stationery Set, click here!