Cheryl always asked me how I was doing, how my children were doing, and even how my husband was doing.  She had never met him!

I don’t ever remember not seeing her with a smile on her face.

Whenever we talked, Cheryl made a point to tell me that she loved me very much. 

She loved being married.

Cheryl didn’t wait for you to invite her into your life.  Instead, she invited you into her life.

She made us all feel special.

Mingled with tears and embraces, these words were spoken over and over again, describing the far-reaching effects of a  young lady who chose to show-up for the life that God had given her.  My 36-year old cousin Cheryl.  She worked on Food Avenue at Target and loved her job.  Loved her life, for that matter.  And when 20+ co-workers from Target showed-up for Cheryl’s funeral last week,  we all rejoiced at the beautiful testament to Cheryl’s all too short life here on Earth.

If you did not know Cheryl, you might have assumed that she lived a somewhat limited life.  Mild special needs necessitated the support of a job coach as she transitioned into her work at Target years before.  And the extra body weight that Cheryl carried sometimes left her short-of breath.  But those of us who had the privilege of being in Cheryl’s life knew that she loved the life that she was living.  Not only through her words, but also in her countenance. Cheryl’s thoughtfulness and child-like innocence wrapped around your soul like a warm hug. Cheryl used the gifts that God had given her and, as a result, she made the world a kinder, more loving place for those who came into her presence.

As I reflect on my sweet cousin’s life, I keep returning to the message that she wrote on my heart.  Show-up for the life you are given.  Life may not look exactly like the one we have planned for ourselves, but we can still make a difference.  A big difference.

I, for one, am guilty of thinking that I need to be doing something big before I can make a noticeable difference in the world.  Instead of appreciating the opportunities right in front of me, I jump ahead, wondering what else God has in store for my future.  While I’m all for dreaming God-sized dreams, I  also am learning to accept that God places me right where I need to be, usually directly in proportion to how I need to develop my gifts.  And as long as I am willing to bloom where He plants me, God will use me to bless others.

Whether I am writing to a small tribe of blog readers or publishing a book that reaches the Best-Seller’s list, God is using me.  If my art only graces the walls of my own house, God is using me.  Just like Cheryl, I want to show-up to my life each day ready to make the most of my gifts.  Cheryl showed-up.  Will you?

Photo Credit:  Flicker Images