Saturday, January 12, 2008

Free to Run

Sonja told the following story at Emily's graveside ceremony:

One Sunday morning our family visited a friend's church. It was charismatic and a bit more interactive than what we were used to. When the praise team began singing "Free to Run," many of the children began running around the sanctuary. Emily hadn't seen anything like this in church before! After a while, she looked up at us with an expression that asked, "Is it okay if I run, too?" We nodded, "Yes," and off she went.

As she ran around the sanctuary, her face was fixed on us the whole time. She was having so much fun!

Now, when we look at a particular picture of Emily, it's as if she has that same expression. It seems as if she's saying, "I'm running in eternity with Jesus." Yes, our hearts ache because we miss her so much, but we know that now she is "Free to Run."


Melissa Lannom said...

I am in the graduate program at Liberty University and have taken a class under Dr. Smith's leadership. At every class he had something very loving to say about his wife and a funny story about his four children. I never met Emily, but heard all about her and feel like I knew her from her Dad's conversations. My prayers are with the entire Smith family during this difficult time.
Melissa Lannom (Martinsville, VA)

lynn said...

I love this story, Sonja!! I loved to see Emily run and I guess that's because she loved it so much. I can hear her laughing too. We are so happy for her!
Love and prayers this morning,

Cynthia Colson said...

I got to know Emily last year during the 2006-2007 school year, and like everyone, I immediately fell in love with her right away. She was a joy to be around, and her smile truly had the ability to change my whole day. As a general education teacher, I would often deal with discipline problems or bad attitudes and it was on those days that I made it a special priority to go and spend my lunch time with Emily. We started reading together during this time, and I remember how excited I was when Emily read an entire book to me. What a joy! This turned into quite a little relationship, and she would come down to my room to show me how to read a clock, something she had colored, or a sticker she had gotten. She quickly caught on to the fact that I always had Little Debbie Cakes in my classroom, and she would come in, show me her wonderful project, she would be ready for her reward, and would look at me with those big beautiful eyes and say “Cake!” “Cake!” And of course, she would always get her cake! At Christmas time, I took her a present, and of course it was beads! She was so excited, and put them on right away. I attached the pictures from this event for you to have.

This year, when the school asked me to ask me to be her homebase teacher, I was thrilled. I was so very excited when she walked in everyday and gave me a huge hug when she was on her way to her seat. It was truly my honor and an absolute privilege to get to have Emily in my classroom on a daily basis.

When I got back from Thanksgiving Break and hadn’t seen Emily for a few days, I became worried, and upon hearing her news, I was heart broken. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, and not given a good prognosis. We underwent several surgeries, hospital stays, chemo, radiation, etc, and we are now praising the Lord that two years later he is ok. I say all that to let you know that not only was Emily already near to my heart, but was even more so because of her battle with cancer. My heart aches for those who are fighting cancer, and I’m not sure people understand until they’ve been through it. I prayed for Emily on a daily basis during those days at school, as well as your family.

My husband and I attended Emily’s funeral together, and I’ll admit I cried from the moment I entered until the moment we left. My heart was not sad for Emily, because I know that she is in Heaven and was healed, but it ached for you, her family, and for those who will miss her, including myself. The idea of Emily dancing in Heaven and twisting those beads of rubies and diamonds were pictures that brought tears of joy.

As a Christian, I know there were many in the crowd that were not Christians, and I want to commend you and your family for the amazing testimony that you were and still are. Also, I was moved by the testimony of the funeral service, where every aspect glorified God, His purpose, and reminded each of us about Heaven and God’s love that was shown to us through a precious little girl like Emily. Thank you for sharing God’s love with others through your testimony and Emily’s funeral; seeds were planted.

As I close, please know that Emily is greatly missed in the halls of Forest Middle School, and in my classroom. She was a true picture of joy, happiness, and God’s love.


Cynthia Colson
7th Grade
Forest Middle School