It hits me here and there as I go about the busy-ness of my everyday. I'll be doing something incredibly mundane and BAM, there it is.
Friend and fellow blogger Mandy Kelly (of Worshipful Living) lost her life a couple of days ago in a tragic house fire* that also claimed the lives of her husband and their two youngest children. Mandy and I had never met in person, but we shared a love of the Lord and of writing. We also shared the bond of having married widowers. Mandy reached out to me years ago to ask about my experience and if my husband had children prior (because she was looking for advice on how to best love her new babies and honor their mama's memory--that's just the kind of woman she was.) Later, I asked her to join our blogging team here at DW and she happily accepted.
If you spend any time on social media and pay attention to women's ministries, you've undoubtedly seen countless tributes to Mandy's unwavering faith and Godliness. Her personal Facebook page is littered with post after post extolling the virtues of her character and recalling the many ways she touched the lives of others.
Death is never easy and it's that much harder when it involves a young, healthy, beautiful woman in the prime of her life. Adding to the tragedy is the death of her husband and children (and two surviving children who have to somehow pick up the pieces after losing their birth mother and now their father and second mother.) It's not fair doesn't even begin to cover my feelings.
As I read the beautiful, tear-jerking tributes to this precious woman, I'm in awe of a life lived to the fullest. Her faithfulness is evident with every word typed by those she loved well. And, my flesh perks up and says, "I want that! I want a legacy that carries on even after I'm gone!"
I want to knee-jerk react into doing more so that others will see me the way they saw Mandy. But the Holy Spirit whispers in my ear that Mandy isn't lauded for her acts (although her acts were many)--she's remembered for her heart, generous spirit, and unwavering faith and dedication. It's her heart for the Lord that captured the hearts of others. As she reached higher for the Lord, she pointed to the One to whom her heart was tethered.
Mandy didn't seek out these tributes. It wasn't her goal to build a platform on which to stand. In fact, it was quite the opposite: She built a platform for the Lord and exalted and elevated His name above all else. That is what has grabbed ahold of countless others who may not have known Mandy in life, but through her death have come to know the Lord...the Lord at whose feet she now sits.
When I heard the news that she'd passed, I had a vivid image of trying to grasp pouring sand in my hands. I didn't believe the news at first because it just didn't make sense. I wanted to rewind and reach out to her one more time. I wanted to go back to our last conversation and rehash it, remember what we'd said. I have no answers as to why the Lord would allow this to happen, but what I have come away with is this: Don't wait.
Don't wait to share your story. Don't wait to reach out to a friend. Don't wait to tell someone what an impact they've had on your life. Don't wait to reach for the hand of the Lord.
It's cliche for sure, but it's true: We are not promised tomorrow.
We all have too many "I'll do it tomorrow" moments.
What if tomorrow's too late?
Was Mandy perfect? Of course not. But, MAN did she make the most of the time she had here on earth. She went to bed that fateful night like all of us do every night, thinking, "tomorrow, I'll..." Instead, she awoke in paradise.
Live the life now that you want to be remembered for later.
Make the call.
Write the letter.
Mend the relationship.
Read the book.
Do the study.
Take the step.
Seek the treatment.
Speak the truth.
Be the friend.
Let it go.
Pray the prayer.
Love the Lord.
Live out your calling
And tell the people in your life who have sown into you what they mean to you--NOW--while they're still around to hear you say how much they mean.
And at the end of our lives, when we enter paradise and see Mandy's unmistakable beaming smile, we'll know it's not our legacy that others will remember. It's Christ's. The same legacy that Mandy wrote about, spoke of, and lived for every day of her life.
Mandy grew up in what many would consider your “typical christian home”. She had a mom, a dad, and two siblings. Yet, what people didn’t always know was that she struggled with feelings of being unwanted. She didn’t know her biological father growing up, and although she had a Daddy who chose to love her unconditionally, she still struggled. However, at the age of thirteen, Mandy surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ, accepting God as her Abba Father. From there, she never looked back. She forgave the man who had never known how to love her- and moved forward.
She had struggles along the way – and you can read more about those over at her blog testimony page– She truly felt like she had lived a life of grace. She had real struggles. She knew what it was like to be single and waiting- She didn’t get married until almost 30 – and she watched everyone around her speed past her. Before she married, she was diagnosed with Infertility– and lived in silence for almost 5 years before sharing that struggle. She married a widower – and became a bonus mom to three kids. She loved and lost. She had been in ministry and been burned.
Yet the one thing that got her through so many of her struggles was Worship. Not just the corporate worship on Sunday – but real, authentic worship. She learned that worship was more than the songs that you sang in church – but worship was a way of life.
*For more information on the tragic death of Mandy Kelly, her husband, and two children, and how you can support her two surviving children, click HERE.