June 26, 2016
Sunday, I had the honor of attending a service for a precious girl, Emily Anne Miller. Emily was almost 19, she was non-verbal and lived with a very fragile physical body. Emily was a very courageous and determined young lady who fought long and hard past the 3 or 4 years the doctors predicted she would live after she was born. Her family rallied around her and the love of Christ bonded and carried their entire family during those – almost 19 years.
The celebration of her life was an incredible service. The Holy Spirit was in there and the christian bond was felt throughout the room. I left pondering every word I heard during that service and every face I would encounter. It was special. As I began to get still and quiet at home, the Lord taught me some incredible life lessons through Emily. I wanted to first say thank you to Emily. You have taught me and changed me and I will never forget you.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
~Emily Anne Miller~
I never had the honor of truly knowing Emily Anne. I always loved her, because I loved her family, very much! Her grandfather used to bring my sisters and I Valentines candy every year and he was the first one I remember in the emergency room with my youngest sister when my Dad died. Emily’s mother, Anne is one lady that has always captured my heart. As a child I always looked up to her and her brother Charles. They were the cool teenagers that my parents poured into and loved. Anne has a stunningly beautiful smile that can light up a room and for a moment makes everyone feel like all is right in the world. Her love has always poured out to everyone around her. Today, that was affirmed over and over as we said, “See you in the morning” to sweet Emily Anne. Today was a day that glorified God in many, many ways. The service itself was so inspiring, the music was moving and the testimony of Emily’s sister, Caitlin and brother, Brandon was deeply touching. The deep sense of community and love throughout the church transcends generations and across the individual church lines. Today was about God and His people. His love shone brightly through the lives of the Miller/Pyke families as they counted the many blessings of what God had done in their life and in that of Emily Anne’s.
While I didn’t get to know much about Emily’s life the past 18 years, it was in her death that my life was changed. You see today, I was reminded how precious life is. I was challenged not to complain and to see each day as a gift. I saw the verse, Romans 15:13 lived out in the whole family, even in the middle of the deepest grief, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Everyone left feeling like they knew more of Emily and she had a huge impact on each one’s life. Emily mirrored her mother, who mirrored her heavenly father. Emily was the embodiment of perseverance and hope for those around her just like the bible says in Romans 5:3-4, “ and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.” She had character and from what I heard today she was a character! She truly got her parents loving and funny personalities.
Lessons l learned through the life and death of Emily Anne Miller:
- Giggle like a girl and it’s ok if others don’t know the joke! Giggle anyway and bless them with your joy. Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Thank you Emily.
- Determination is a must, even when it calls for being firm. The mental picture of Emily taking her right fist to communicate when she was not in agreement with the situation, meant she was taking a stand. This is one lesson I am sure she understood from the determination of her mother, as she sought to get Emily the best help possible and make sure she was loved and felt loved. We should all be so determined in our quest to be more like Christ. 1 Chronicles 15:7 says, “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.” Thank you Emily.
- Family is purposefully designed by God to make us more like Christ. Caitlin and Brandon’s love and devotion to Emily runs just as deep as for their parents. The love for each other was an overflow out of their love for Christ. Today that was a challenge to every parent out there, to raise your kids to love Jesus, showing them your words and your actions have an eternal impact. Anne and Kevin, you did just that, even in the hard times. Anne and Kevin, your children’s faith is one of your great rewards. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”. Thank you Emily.
4. Christian community is a God-given need and life-sustaining resource. It took a village to take care of Emily, everyone needed support, not just her. God designed the church to live in community and the love in the church today was a wake up call for all God’s people. This is how we are to love each other, to build one another up and support each other, pushing each other to be more like Christ, forsaking all other agendas, but Christ’s. Emily’s life on earth and with Jesus pointed the focus in the right direction, to Him. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Thank you Emily.
5. Take time to stop and look at people in the eyes or to kiss them on the forehead. Jake was highlighted because he took time to see how Emily’s soul was doing. He stopped and got down on her level and made her feel special. We spend so much time asking people “how are you?” and are completely ok with a “fine” or “good” response and keep walking. Those times are nice and but air fillers. Jake’s relationship with Emily should cause us all to stop and look into the eyes of those we talk to and to love on them. Everyone struggles, everyone hurts and everyone needs to be acknowledged and loved on. Caitlin said she wished everyone could see the Miller family as a whole. It was the whole picture today that inspired us all. Today, I was inspired by Emily’s physically challenges to be intentional with everyone, to ask the question, “how are you, really?”. I will never again be ok with a ‘fine’ without a follow-up and prayer. Thank you Emily.
- Humble yourselves to always have the last word! This might sound strange, but we are not promised our next breath, much less our tomorrow. Caitlin shared that her grandfather would tell her grandmother, every night before going to bed, “I’ll see you in the morning”. Emily comes from a long legacy of strong faith as Hebrews 11:11 defines, “now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see.” Emily’s family talked and taught each other about the hope and faith of eternal life though Jesus Christ. Emily, we will see you in the morning!
- Count your blessings-name them one by one- Count your blessings see what the Lord has done! Emily’s family would sing “Count your blessings” when things were tough as a reassurance of God’s goodness and as a praise and thank you when things were easier! Blessings come in all size and color and this precious family understood where they came from and would never allow each other to forget. What a lesson, a tribute and testimony to what Paul calls us to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Thank you Emily.
Emily’s precious life here on earth and now her life with Jesus, will continue to speak truth to those of us here.
Thank you Emily!