Remembering the 11th birthday of our daughter Elli,
who passed away in 2008

***

“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
1 Peter 1:24-25

leaves encased in ice

Warm winter days in the Midwest can coax bulbs to bloom too soon. It’s not uncommon for tiny, delicate green shoots to peek from flowerbeds before the last crushing blow of winter’s blast — only to be pommeled with “incompatible” elements that snuff them out of existence far too soon.

The devastation and death, however, does nothing to diminish the wonder of new life. The miracle that had emerged out of hard, dead, dormant soil is no less a miracle. Death, in all of its ugliness, can do nothing to dilute the glory of new life. And the life, so green up out of the ground, leaves an indelible mark on the watching world — regardless of any adversity that may beset it.

God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us a beautiful miracle of new life — a baby girl born at 8:17am on February 26, 2000. Elli Renee would be a vapor among vapors — a Most Fragile Flower — born into a world of stinging wind chill and harsh, relentless storms that would pelt her fragile frame with raw and frigid force for eight years.

In that same infinite wisdom, the Lord mercifully took her just before dawn on Lord’s Day morning, October 19, 2008. Unlike a frostbitten bud blanketed in snow, we found her forehead kissed with warm beads of sweat. Heaven had opened up and snatched her away, just moments before we walked in. The lingering scent of Heaven was palpable.

As brief as it was, Elli’s life was, in a word, beautiful. She courageously peeked up out of the ground like a tulip shoot, and the world watched with awe at what God was doing. And nothing — not even her imperfections — could diminish the beauty of her life. In fact, they served only to bring her Creator more into plain view.

hyacinth

The more lasting memory for those who loved and lost Elli was not the sting of her death, but the miracle of her life. Like a fragile flower, it’s a miracle that she survived gestation, much less the weather conditions she experienced on earth. But unlike a flower, Elli’s terrestrial story will resume on a distant shore, where moth and dust and death do not corrupt. And oh, what a day that will be.

Happy birthday, dear Elli. Happy birthday to you.

***

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