For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from youth.
- Psalm 71.5
Hope: to expect with confidence. Such a little word with a simple definition. Yet it is one of the three most powerful words in the English language. Paul spoke of faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love, he said. But what is life without hope?
Sha spent her last afternoon talking with her MaMa about going to work in a foreign country doing a service project. Later that evening, Sha and I sat together on our back porch reading about what she had found and tried to decide on a place for us to go to celebrate her recent college graduation. She said that she didn't want to go to a "touristy" place. She wanted us to go to serve somewhere.
I remember her saying to me that night, “Mama, I think maybe the reason I didn’t get that job in Charlotte (NC) is because God has a different plan for me. I feel like I’m supposed to go somewhere and help people. I just want to put on my Chaco sandals and my t-shirts and shorts and walk amongst the people and help them. I want to experience their culture, eat their food and get to know them.” During our conversation we discussed several countries we could visit and finally settled on Belize.
Little did we know when we went to bed that night that Sha would never have the chance to personally carryout her desire. Tragically, her young life on earth ended around 11:30 the next morning in a car accident while on her way to a job interview. Never could we have dreamed this would happen to our beautiful daughter, and that this tragedy and the simple conversation Sha and I shared the night before would so change our lives and redirect our life’s work.
A couple of weeks following the accident Sha’s sister, Britney, found her “bucket list.” Two things Sha had written on it were (1) go on a mission trip and (2) become closer to my Lord and Savior. We knew we had to complete Sha’s calling… Sha’s dream.
Sha had always shared herself with others, which was evident by the hundreds and hundreds of people, who came to see us, wrote notes and continue to send symbols of their love. People always refer to Sha’s beautiful smile and her amazing spirit. She had the wonderful gift of sharing and brightening up the lives of others, so we knew we wanted to share ourselves and hope with the people of Belize.
A few weeks later two friends came to see me. I shared with them that our family felt we had to go and finish Sha’s mission. One friend told me that her cousin had just returned from a mission trip to Belize with the Praying Pelicans Organization. We made some calls and everything just fell into place for us to go to Belize. Later, I thought how ironic it was that we went through Praying Pelicans as “Sha Byrd” was one of the many nicknames she was called by her friends.
A few days later the exact “hope” that we were meant to share was revealed. Sha’s diploma from Georgia Southern came in the mail. With a broken heart I walked up the stairs to her room and put it on her dresser. I pleaded with God to let me know that Sha was safe. I wanted to see where she was. I knew she was in heaven, but that wasn’t good enough for me. I needed to know exactly where our Shazie was.
To me, just saying she was in heaven and in a better place was not sufficient. Through my tears there in our daughter’s room, my eyes fell on Sha’s Bible. As I picked it up, a bookmark caused a page to open. And there, marked with an asterisk and in brackets, was
I John 5:11-12. Paraphrased, I read, “God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son.” It was at that point that I received the assurance I needed…that Sha was with Jesus. I knew Sha was with the Ultimate Hope, and my hope was restored.
Now, our mission was clear. We were to SHARE the HOPE, that is Jesus, AROUND.
Hope for Belize...
Our first trip to Belize was not a typical mission trip. We came to Belize in hopes of completing Sha's last spoken dream, to find peace and to begin our healing. We achieved those goals through sharing, serving, worshipping and healing. When we left the beautiful people of Belize we thought our work was done; we had completed our mission. But, when we got back home, we realized this was just the beginning. There is much work to be done.
As Sha's Daddy and I were at Sha's Place On The Hill visiting her, he told her he thought that when he created this special resting place for her physical body that he had done all he could for her. Now, he realized he was not through.
So Sha truly is fulfilling her dream to go somewhere and help people. I just don't know exactly where she is all the time and she's free and doesn't have to check in with her mama.
I still don't understand why this happened, but I cannot believe that God intentionally inflicts pain upon us. I will not believe He takes delight in our brokenness. But Paul does say in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for the good of those who are called accordingly. That is what we hope for now. Sha's beautiful spirit and beautiful smile live on. She unknowingly planted the seed in each of us to Share Hope Around.
It is our prayer that you will take a little bit of Sha with you always and will find a way to SHARE HOPE AROUND in your life.
Written by Jeanine Wetherington,