People who have influenced my life without ever knowing it.
Like the guy who started the Africa Prayer Band at Moody in the 1960’s.
That’s where my parents met - Mom praying fervently on her knees for Africa, and Dad staring at the pretty girl in the tight sweater. Not thinking, I’m guessing, all that much about Africa.
One of my favorite “never-mets” is DL Moody. Good, ol’ DL.
I think about how he started a school where eventually my parents met, then Brett and I met, and I start getting a little sentimental about the guy.
In my mind, DL is sort of like Hagrid in Harry Potter. It’s not just that they look alike (although they do), but they seem like genuinely nice people who want to help people as much as they can.
To me, DL is sort of like my really, really old uncle.
If you know me at all, you know I resist jumping on bandwagons. I like to take my time and formulate an opinion on whatever the topic is.
Recently though, I noticed a lot of my Facebook friends and family were joining the same group.
Now, my friends are a very diverse group of people. I’ve got conservatives and liberals, homeschooling/organic /granola moms and career women, old school chauvinists and ardent feminists, etc.
Now, I obviously care about them all. After all, they *are* my friends.
However, because of their variety, it was very rare to see everyone virtually supporting the same cause.
Not Starbucks or Farmville. Not Li’l Aquarium or the Happy Sunshine Gardner. Not even the enormously popular “Add a Dislike Button to Facebook.”
It was the Pray for Sydney Ives group.
I didn’t know Syndey, her parents or even - I think - anyone in her extended family.
But a LOT of my Facebook friends knew her or her family and were joining this group.
So, I got curious.
I googled Sydney Ives and learned she was a local 11 year old girl with a brain tumor. At that time, I decided I would join the Pray for Sydney Ives group on Facebook and would pray for her and her parents.
This past Sunday, I was scanning updates on Facebook and learned Sydney had passed away.
I was sad. It is always sad when children die. It’s the normal human emotion to feel.
But then I pulled up the posted YouTube videos and listened to the family’s message of overwhelming faith and outpouring of blind trust in God’s perfect will, and I began to sob.
Both Sydney and her parents demonstrated tremendous faith in God’s will. Whether Sydney would live or die, they wanted God lifted up and glorified in the circumstances. As a result, their pleas for prayer and the turquoise (Sydney’s favorite color) ribbon campaign lit up places as far away as Nepal and South Africa.
They built off of Lance Armstrong’s “Livestrong” campaign, using their last name as a springboard for “Ivestrong.”
I watched those videos, and I began to think about when Sydney was a baby. I thought about how her mother had no idea she would have such an (earthly speaking) short time with her.
Of course, that made me start thinking about Sam. I started crying at the prospect of losing him even as I held him in my arms. I know our children are “on loan” from God, but knowing it and bravely living it are two very different things.
Other friends have blogged about Sydney. They knew her in person and were able to capture her spirit and loving, joyful heart, even in those last days. They have blogged her dear family’s witness far better than I ever could.
I speak as an outsider. I have watched this family’s testimony from afar and have been humbled and heartbroken by their sorrow and their loss.
But (heavenly speaking), I am not an outsider. I am Sydney’s sister and her friend. I did not have the pleasure of knowing her here on this earthly sphere, but I will sing with her someday far above the clouds.
I send my warmest condolences to the Ives family as they mourn this passing and look hopefully to the day they will all be reunited.
And I add Sydney to my “never-mets” list – the list of people who have changed my life without ever knowing it.
And I look forward to singing in that heavenly choir alongside my father, my sweet aunt Kathy, kindly DL Moody, and now brave and forever cancer-free Sydney Ives.
More on the Ives family: