I remember leaving Shell Beach, needing to return to Mandeville; wanting to comfort Brooke, console Paul and attend a service at Samantha's school, Our Lady of the Lake. Thinking it would be good for Samantha's school friends, to see me, to see us, me and my family in one piece, after such a utterly traumatic and devastating loss. I knew their young world was rocked. After three days of gut wrenching searching, our prayers were answered, allowing us to peacefully depart. Yes, peacefully, I remember feeling this way. I even texted this sensation to my "back porch" friend.
At this point, this person was a complete stranger to me in the earthly way (I know that sounds granola but, really, I never knew her before this time) however, she was the very first person I texted upon finding Samantha's body. A complete stranger but, not really. After, our divine encounter on the back porch, we were sisters in Christ; strangers no more. The message she brought to me, cloaked me in peace. This stranger was the messenger, I had yet to meet the person who heard the message. This person, placed in my life, she understood and reassured me of the peaceful presence that enveloped me. She had prayed for supernatural healing and supernatural peace on that back porch. This peace was bestowed upon me. I was feeling it!!! David and I got in his truck, he inserted, at this time, his one and only homemade Christian cd and "I Can Only Imagine" echoed across the speakers. We listened and we heard:
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
Upon leaving Shell Beach, LA, I knew Samantha had entered Heaven. God had revealed Himself and made it known to me, she was in her Father's House. But, how did she do it? How did she act? David and I, in the truck, on the way home, after three agonizing days of searching, actually had a calm but, emotional conversation about how we thought Sam had entered Heaven. Dave's thoughts were that she might not have done any of the above, not her style; no standing, no singing and definitely not still. Anyone knowing Sam and her style, I think would agree. We concurred more than likely, she entered Heaven, arms held high and wide, running with reckless abandon, expecting to be greeted, waiting to be welcomed and embracing it all with eager enthusiasm. An image immediately popped into my mind and I said, "I bet, I know how she entered Heaven, I can see it! Exactly like she ran through the doors of "The Highway" for a summer youth group session. " This is one of the very faint things I can see in my head, and only from the backside. The Tuesday evening, before her accident, Samantha chose to attend a "Girl Talk" get-together (mind you, she chose to skip the paid tennis lesson!!) Excitedly, she hopped out of the car, ran towards the door, flung it opened, raised her arms in the air, extended them wide, wide enough to receive many embraces, expecting fully to receive them and never, never looking back. What an entrance! Samantha's style!!
Today, I am packing up a project. One that chronicled Samantha's life at St. Timothy's. We entitled the project "Samantha's Seeds of Faith"; it was created in conjuction with a playground, God willing, we hope to help build for the children of our church and community. (How fitting, St. Timothy's was a very special place to Samantha and to think there might be a playground built there in remembrance of her; a place of love, happiness, faith and play, settles within in me well. ) Before I put the pieces away, it is important to me, to record in words the "seeds of faith', that were planted in Sam's soul, St. Timothy's being the fertile soil. The itty, bitty seed, planted at a very young age was Samantha's baptism, then, being a child of believers. But, the beginning of deep roots developing. Often, we would flip through family photo albums, the snapshots of this ceremony instilled in Samantha, an early commitment to a Christian way of life. As a infant she was cared for and nurtured by Ms. Nita and others in the nursery. Pre-school and early childhood years were spent with Sunday School teachers. She learned how to paint, draw, cut and glue and sing of Jesus's love. She used paper, glue, sequins and yarn to recreate the sweet, simple bible stories she was being taught. She would often ask me, " Can we read the one, when the man goes through the roof!"As I see it, seeds are still being planted, soon they begin to sprout as Samantha was able to actively participate by, doing what she was learning. Opportunities such as, playing the part of an angel or a lamb in the The Living Nativity, or carrying palm leaves on Palm Sunday, singing with Ms. Vanda and the Children's Choir, or Acolyting at the earlier service allowed her "seeds of faith" to mature. Independence allowing personal growth. Samantha's summers were spent growing in God's love, as well. One week in particular brought her such joy; the week of Vacation Bible School. She attended every summer, starting in the nursery while I volunteered, all the way until, she was able to serve as a youth helper. She commented to me last summer, at the
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.