When we celebrated but also mourned Zekey’s first birthday without him here in 2014, we threw him a party. What else do you do? I couldn’t just stop celebrating the boy who brought so much light, laughter and joy into our lives simply because he was no longer here.
As the years have gone on, the ache is still here but ‘how’ we celebrate is different year after year. Last year, we threw a big party because our neighborhood really wanted us to and we allowed ourselves to really grieve and share him with them in a way we had not yet.
This year, we are just going to keep it low key, probably have house renovations going on honestly but when the kids come home, we will do things that remind us of him. A cake, watch videos of him and just let ourselves remember and ache as we wait to join him again.
Zekey would be 10. I imagine him going to the same school as Bexley, I imagine him being hilarious and he and Cy playing games together, LEGO-building, wrestling. I see him fit perfectly in a photo when I take one of my kids. Except, I am only imagining, I wish it weren’t so.
Every year on Zeke’s birthday since he has been in heaven, it’s now been 6 years (I cannot believe it), my older sister Mandy would give me a wreath. A Christmas wreath for my door and it was so thoughtful and made my heart swell. Last year, my friend took that over. She surprised me with the same wreath and I cried thinking of God’s kindness.
That same day, we had a financial gift for the wreath-giving friend who God had put on my heart over and over since we had received this money from a friend back in Toledo. God put us on our Toledo friend’s heart and we just didn’t need it, so on it went.
Today, this friend stopped over, with another wreath for my door, another sweet card and just the best heart. She then tells me that the money we gave them last year (also given to us) she passed on, and gave it to a women who was very much in need of it last year. This same woman recently accepted Jesus into her heart.
Wow. When God told our friends to give us the gift of money, and when He told us to give it, and our other friends to give it, God had this woman and her heart and life in mind. Her eternal life.
What does this all mean? There are a few sermon illustrations in here if you ask me! One is, the Lord is always speaking to us, not just when we sit our butts in the pews on Sundays, but when we are at the grocery store, getting a coffee, taking the trash out and we see our neighbor. Sundays are great, and meeting together with The Body of Christ at church is an important part of our walk and relationship with God, I truly believe that, but our mission field is outside of the church. We are to walk and talk like Christ-followers when we leave that door. The world is our opportunity to share our faith and hope in Jesus. To be Jesus and walk alongside those who want Him and need Him.
Obedience. We could have spent that money ourselves, or either of our friends totally could have used that money, and really used it for themselves, but they didn’t. They heard and they obeyed. They saw the needs of others before themselves.
What does God having this woman’s eternal life in mind mean? In Christ, we are made new. When we say ‘yes’ to Jesus, when we acknowledge Who He is and believe that He not only died for our sins and rose again, but that He is the Son of God, we admit that we cannot save ourselves or do enough good to earn our way to Heaven. Then, we are made new in Christ. We then start the true Life, Life that.never.ends.
The life that Zekey lives.
We don’t see him here anymore, just in old pictures, but man, he is more alive than ever! He is hanging out up there with Jesus, his great grandparents, the Saints in the bible…He isn’t cold in the ground…he has a new body.
The very best thing about this story, not only is it true, but it’s for all. Every one of you reading this, and every share and those who don’t read it, this message is for The World.
For God so loved the WORLD (you and me and them and we and her and he) that He gave His ONE and ONLY son (to die on the cross for your sins, my sins, everybody’s sins sins) that WHOSOEVER (who ever the heck wants to!) believe in Him (Jesus), shall NOT PERISH (shall.not.die) but have ETERNAL LIFE!
What’s your greatest fear? Death of someone, right? Yourself? Your favorite kid? (kidding, all of you children), your parents, grandchild, etc.
Here’s the thing, when you believe in Jesus, death is no longer an option, death is no longer on the line. When you believe, the only death is your old self and the new, in Christ is now who you are. You become marked by the blood of Jesus the moment you believe and you start to live, for the first time ever. And that life keeps on going the moment the body you had on earth stops working. You just keep on going with Jesus, but in His presence, face to face.
You don’t have to ‘get it all’ or ‘get your stuff together’ before accepting Jesus. You basically just need to know you have a lot of ‘stuff’ and without Him, it’s never going to get worked out. We come to Him as we are, and the work of the Holy Spirit (God’s spirit comes into our hearts when we accept Jesus- it’s pretty cool) begins a new work in you.
And He is patient, and He is kind, and He forgives every single sin and helps us back up when we fall….fall hard or just a little scrape.
I say this all because yes, I have asked Jesus into my heart, when I was 4 or 5 but that decision I made many years ago when being a momma was but a dream, is the very reason as to why I get up every day, and keep loving the kids I still have here, and follow dreams, and keep moving forward. He is my strength. I know I’m weak without Him. I know I’d be so lonely without Him, I’d have no Hope to pull me out of my despair when I miss Zekey so so much and when I just hate that I have to celebrate his birthday here while He is there.
So tonight, when the kids go to bed, I’ll hang the same “Happy birthday” sign I’ve been hanging up since the kids were little, and in the morning, we will imagine him here with us, we will watch old videos and I’ll cry like I am now. And then, we will thank God that He isn’t cold in the ground we buried his old body in, but risen with His Savior, our Savior Jesus and I will not be able to do anything but thank God that although this broken world made my son suffer and go on to heaven sooner than I’d like, it’s because of Jesus that I will get to see Him again and no tear or sorrow or death will touch any of us again.
I want that for everyone reading this. I know God wants that for you.
And I close to say and ask, in memory, and to honor Zekey’s life, who would be turning 10 tomorrow (November 19th, 2019) would you consider giving a Christmas wreath to someone? Close your eyes and say a prayer, or just whoever comes to mind, or maybe you put it in your car and wait for it to be clear who you’re supposed to give it to, even if a stranger. I think it could be a sweet way to share the love and light Zekey shared with all of us who know him, or even who now know his story.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Feel free to share and tag me! #ZekeyLives #ZekesGivingWreath