Every New Year’s Eve I ask God what His plans are for me in the coming New Year. December 31, 2015, God’s Spirit spoke to me, “Tell her story.” I thought I knew exactly what God was saying to me. When Sommer was around 10-years-old I witnessed some young girls excluding her at a church event. My heart just broke. No mama bear wants to see her cub being snubbed, but it does happen. It is simply part of growing up in a fallen world.
I tried to use situations like this one as a learning lesson. For me and for our daughters. The thing about Sommer is that she didn’t catch on. She was not competitive, not athletic, not a show-off and certainly not mean. She was just the opposite she included everyone and if she saw someone at the back of the room she would go stand by them to show she cared. I would not allow our daughters to tease, pick on or exclude one another. I did not allow squabbles over anything. I would sit them down and tell them, with hands on my hips and say, “One day your daddy and I are not going to be here we will be with Jesus and Y’all will only have is each other. Now hug and let’s move on.”
I have heard many stories of sisters not liking each other and about physical fights. They carried that hurt into adulthood. I did not want that for our daughters. As the fictional character, Barney Fife would say “You gotta nip it, nip it, nip it in the bud.” And that’s exactly what I did. Did they quarrel? Of course, they did and do. If you were to ask them today they will tell you the same story about mom and dad being with Jesus and they would only have each other.
After returning home from the church event I sent the three of them to the showers and I went into my prayer closet. And cried out to God! “Why her God why my baby?” Later that night I woke up from a deep sleep and grabbed my writing journal and the pencil did all the work. I wrote a story about a little girl who did not belong and she very much wanted to.
The New Years prayer for 2016 was simply “to tell her story.” I told my husband and we thought that 2016 was the year we should publish the story I wrote a decade earlier. I started looking for an illustrator and found a delightful young woman who personally knew our Sommer. I truly thought that publishing her story as a children’s book was what God was alluding to when He whispered: “Tell Her Story.” NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, did I think her death at the tender age of 22 was a story I needed to tell.
I was wrong. This is God’s story about Sommer Raye:
Sommer was a junior at Texas State studying History. She was going to start ASL summer of 2017. She wanted to work at the colonial museum in Williamsburg, VA. She wanted to connect with deaf tourists. Her weaknesses were watching the Kirdashinions and chocolate preferably at the same time. She didn’t party. She didn’t drink. She didn’t date around. She was happiest being home with her family. She made handmade gifts for people every Christmas or other special events. Six hours before she became unconscious she was kissing me goodnight and reminding me she would be in class and not to expect her home until after 3:30 Monday afternoon. Sommer loved and loved to be loved.
I have told that story over 100 times in 2017, our first year without her. But God took me to Dallas to a hotel where I told a young woman about Sommer and The Samaritan woman at the well and how Jesus knew all about her past/present and future. Jesus loved the Samaritan woman and He loves Christyl, who accepted Christ right there on the job poolside of The Four Seasons. Fetching drinks for thirsty people. How beautiful is that? Sommer did not die in vain. She left a story to be shared and that story changed at least one young woman’s life. Welcome to the family Christyl
We all have a platform. We all have a story to tell. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus you have many stories to share. It’s called The Gospel. Pass it on and watch souls soar.
For His glory!