I am sending this out early in hopes that it will reach everyone that followed Sophie's story in time for Thanksgiving. I ask you to please send this to the people in your email list that prayed for her and I ask you to read it to your children that love her so!
This Thanksgiving I have so much to be thankful for. A few years ago, I had prayed to the Lord to help guide me into a direction that would be worthy of his blessings. Wow, He showed me a depth in my heart that I was very unsure about at first. But, I knew that if I was to fully have Faith in him, I had to take what was laid on my heart and do the leap of Faith. Regardless of what others would say or think because of it. I am grateful that I did just that and that my heart was truly open. For now I am finally seeing what He means by the word "Joy". I am grateful to have learned one very important key to living a joyful life. And that is... knowing I CAN'T truly be happy unless those around me are too.
I have found that God gives us the fundamentals of life but so many of us choose to not listen. But the reality is.. how can we be happy if our family, friends, neighbors or co-workers are sad and unhappy? Just like it's hard to eat a full meal when you see your neighbors starving. So my idea of a happy life is to try my best and live in such a way that my friends, family and even strangers don't suffer because of something I have said, done or didn't do. Now I am far from perfecting this, and at times I fail miserably... but I strive for this daily and teach my family to do the same.
You see Gods will for us is NOT that we perfect this ( we are all human and creatures of imperfection), perfection only leads to pride and self-righteousness. He only wants us to trust Him enough to place our lives in His hands fully and watch Him transform us into joyful people that are thankful in good times and in bad. Then, in return go out and show the world what He can do.
"What caused me to finally open my eyes and ears to Him you may ask?".....well no one other than my precious Goddaughter, Sophie Dale Sparks of course. She was a true believer! I have been told that some people had been taken by surprise at the end of her short life. They had no idea she was so close to death because she looked so healthy and happy. The only thing that showed the world she was even sick was her beautiful bald head. She made dying look easy, and I know the only reason she could do that was because Sophie allowed the Lord to consume her heart. In return she spread SUNSHINE into the lives of many people, some who hadn't seen the sun in many, many years.
I received many letters from people that I don't even know, thanking me for sharing Sophie with them. Through opening a random email sent by a friend their lives were changed. One in particular touched me in away that I could never fully describe. The letter explained how they had never met Sophie personally but felt as if they had. They shared how Sophie's story became almost an obsession and were always seeking ways to learn more about her. They would get up early and before even brushing their teeth, they checked their email for any new updates. They told how when they received the word that Sophie was now a heavenly angel, their heart sunk. Heartbroken not just over a communities loss, her parents pain, or shattered hope. But also because there would be no more updates or pictures. However, the most fascinating thing they shared with me was that it was her death that led them back to church and into the arms of our Lord. A place they had left and long avoided for years. They now woke up no longer to check for emails from me, but to talk to God! Up until that letter I myself was asking God "Why? Why take our Sophie Sunshine when she was leading so many to you in prayer? When I know she would have glorified you for the rest of her life? Did we not pray hard enough or lead a good enough life, had we done something wrong?" Well God so gently and graciously answered my question with that one of many letters that came. He didn't take her to punish us...He took her because she deserved it. She went over and beyond and earned her early promotion from this world that can be very unkind! Her little body suffered so and now it was time to give her a new one.
I have learned that we should all live our lives like Sophie did. When we enter a room, we need to light it up with SUNSHINE!!! You are never to old to learn and never to young to start! I hope that if you, your family, your neighbors or friends are suffering---that the Lord is allowed to jump into your/their hearts and that you find the gratitude that pure JOY can bring.
This Thanksgiving may your home be filled with the Lords love, His peace, and an over abundance of His blessings on your table.
"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18"