It has taken me four months to work up the strength to write this post.
How do you say good-bye to a dear friend, co-worker, a partner in mission, prayer warrior, and someone I had loved like a daughter?
I have wrestled with the reality of this loss. Losing Madie has been more challenging and more profound than any I have traveled before. She was part of my everyday. I looked forward to seeing her at work as well as touching base regularly. She was a joy to do life with.
I met Madie in church when she was hired as a worship leader. I knew she was about the age of my own daughters and felt a strong desire to protect and guide her as she entered this new community, just as I would hope that another would do for one of my girls. She was easy to love. She was beautiful and engaging. She was also talented and smart.
Most importantly, she was so grounded in her faith. If you spent much time with her at all, you would feel like you mattered to her. You would also discover that she was so much more than her dazzling smile.
I invited her in to help with Play to Your Strengths as a volunteer. I wasn’t sure how she would fare as some of our teens can be a little spicy 🙂 I remember that first day being impressed by her ability to connect and engage our group. She had that unique balance of youthful spunk and grounded maturity. I had been praying for someone just like her to pour my heart into, and perhaps one day pass the baton. She was the answer to the prayer of my heart: Please bring someone that can carry this heart project further than I can and perhaps even after I am no longer able—what a sense of peace. We had excellent working chemistry and had great fun dreaming up creative lesson plans and finding exciting ways to kick things up a notch. We often laughed at how similar our strengths were. We were both loaded with so much empathy and adaptability yet so lacking in competition.
Working at a church is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it can break your heart. We walked through some challenging places in desperate prayer.
When Madie was going to be married, she decided to transition away from worship ministry. I also assumed she would not be able to continue with us at Play to Your Strengths. Her resignation was a tough pill to swallow. But God had moved something in Madie’s heart for this work. The work she never imagined doing. Our director decided to take a leap of faith and offer her a position with our organization. Thankfully she agreed.
The young woman who swore she would never give a sermon was public speaking to large and small groups. She had an ease about her that was inspiring. That first summer, she gave this sermon: Seeing Beyond Ourselves
she had discovered that sweet spot where your strengths and heart collide and you discover your purpose. She was thriving. She was confident. She was energized.
Two years later, on June 6th, 2020, Madie completed the final chapter of her life’s story. It has a gut-punch that shredded my heart into a million pieces. It made absolutely no sense why she would be taken so young at 26. It felt as if the last 3/4 of her story were savagely ripped away from the binding. She was living an almost perfect story. She met her prince charming. She was working in a job that mattered and fulfilled her as she poured her heart into so many in our community, young and old. Her story was so on point that you could easily imagine what her next chapters would contain. I wrestled with this in prayer that sounded a lot like, “WHY would you allow this!” “Why would you take her and not me!” Then that odd peace that rests upon you when you are pulled in close to Jesus presented this imagery…Madie’s life story. She gently removed pages one by one and intentionally handed them over to so many around her. These pages were then carefully imbedded into our own stories. We have the privilege of carrying a part of her story in ours and the honor of sharing it well.
Swallowing hard, I understood that the number of her days was mapped out before she took her first breath. I had the honor of being a part of her last days as she finished the race set before her. I got to see her discover her purpose and to thrive in living it so well. Well done, my dear sweet Madie. You mattered. I will share your story well and wide. I will encourage our teens to live a life of purpose and to carry those pages with gratitude and joy. I will forever miss your smile, laughter, and energy. I will choose to live intentionally because life can be short. Thank you for leaving behind so many things that have provided encouragement…almost like daily manna at times. Until we meet again, my sweet girl.