We are grateful to so many people, it is difficult to know where to begin. We are doing our best to send out thank you cards, but let me say here one enormous thank you to all of you who have consistently given us your love and support. It humbles us to be surrounded by such wonderful people.
Jessica captured our shared feeling perfectly when she said, "I feel like I had so much more to give Avery as a mom, so it was very important to me that her service go well." We had, as I mentioned, given most of our time to that end from the time Avery passed until we arrived to church Friday morning. While the service was emotional, it was every bit the celebration we had hoped it would be. And we had no idea the outpouring of support that would come with everyone that attended.
For those who took the time out of your day to come and support us by your presence at Avery's service, thank you ever so much. Many we had the chance to speak with at the cemetary and the lunch that followed back at church. But we also recognize there were many more we did not have the chance to thank personally. To all of you, thank you. Lastly, to those near and far who were unable to attend but sent cards, phone messages, texts, emails, facebook posts, blog comments, and spoken and unspoken prayers, thank you.
Yesterday morning, Emily drew a picture of the graveside service from Friday. She included the flowers with surrounding graves, the tree near Avery's grave, the green roof of the shelter the cemetary set out for the service, Avery's pink casket, her own beautiful blond hair, and the tiny bodies of Olivia and her father (whose hair is always spiked).
I have appreciated reading the many cards we have received in the mail. My cousin Debb sent one that says, "We're given many gifts as we go through life. Some we're allowed to enjoy for a long time, others only briefly. But each gift has the power to change us, enrich us, to make us better people." Jessica and I believe that is true, but we recognize that we still have a tough road ahead with the grieving process. This morning, we will go to church with the dull ache of loss and the sense of a void in our earthly family. What we most want is God's presence with us through that process.
Lastly this morning, I want to say thank you for the stories you have told us of God's presence and movement among you. Some of the remarks have even been related to indirect or direct effects of Avery's life. Regardless of what circumstances precipitated it, we give God the credit. One of the biggest highlights of this week and maybe of this year was receiving an email from a dear friend who contacted me a week or two ago to let us know he was praying for us. In a subsequent email he told me of his earnestness about praying for us because Jesus had stirred in his life within the last year. He is now committed to living a life of faith in God and Jesus. Nothing brings Jessica and I greater joy than we hear this (literally) life-giving story from our friends and loved ones.