She gave me a sunny smile and hopped out of bed, eager for the day. She was my easiest baby. When she was tired, she just wandered back to her bedroom, pulled the toybox over to the crib, climbed in, and fell asleep.
I started calling her Shine because she brought happy sunshine to our home. She smiled cheerfully and quietly participated in all the busy chaos of a large family.
“Here, go buy Shine a hat,” my dad would say, handing me a 20-dollar bill. He loved her quirky fashion sense: the hat tilted at just the right angel or the boots adding just the right touch to one of her outfits. I never knew how she would come down the stairs, but I knew she would be adorable. I kept calling her Shine because she had her own unique light and eclectic style.
As the teenage years were approaching, Shine was torn between two worlds: God’s Kingdom and the world. I saw the struggle, but things were often tense between us, and I couldn’t say the words she needed to hear. So, I knelt by my bed and cried out to God to protect and rescue my daughter, to open her eyes to Jesus.
And I called her Shine in faith that His light would shine in her.
Even during those years, Sarah Joy extended so much compassion and forgiveness to people who hurt and betrayed her. More than I was comfortable with. I was impressed by her love and kindness even then.
When my Mommy passed away, I was so worried that Shine and Jimmy wouldn’t remember her because they were so young. However, Shine wrote her a song and I tucked that song inside the music books near my keyboard and I would take it out and try to read it through cloudy eyes. Did she ever know how much her song brought a little ray of light in such a dark time in my life?
And she marched out boldly, fearlessly, terrifying me the whole time. What on earth was she up to now? I would wonder. Sometimes she was too opinionated and voiced them too strongly—and I saw myself in her and we would laugh after our opinions clashed because she saw it too.
And I realized that Shine was fulfilling her name. She was shining boldly and brightly for Christ’s glory! Obeying the Great Commission.
But, back to the real reason I still call her Shine. You see, Sarah Joy is no longer a little girl or a teenager. She is a young woman who loves Jesus, studies His Word, reaches the lost, uses her gifts, ministers to teens, and mixes sound. Like me, she loves cameras, but unlike me she finds the moment, the art, the focus shot after shot. She is an artist. And not only with her camera, she paints with words, too. Best of all, she can make anything funny, turning somber times into joyful ones. Shine’s humor, love, and friendship light up my life.
To be good friends, to laugh, cry, disagree, rejoice, work, minister, and learn together—that is a privilege! Yes, I will always be her Mommy and hopefully, she will come back time and time again to ask for my wisdom. Yet, we have entered the time of co-laboring in the Kingdom, sisters in Christ, and I look forward to all the adventures ahead.
Happy 21st Birthday, Shine. I love you with all my heart. 😊