sarah-dancing in the rain

sarah-kLike any other expectant parents, in the early morning hours of that April Spring day in 1983, Kathy and Terry were eagerly waiting the birth of their first child. In a very brief moment, their lives were changed forever. Little Sarah was born with numerous life threatening health problems as well as several physical “defects” or  anomalies. When faced with so many very serious issues, the doctors gave the same prognosis that seems to be so often given to the family of a tiny newborn baby, clinging to life, “She may not survive beyond the first 24 hours.”

Immediately, Kathy and Terry looked to God as their source of comfort and hope. Days turned into months, enduring surgery after surgery, working through life threatening issues including hydrocephalus, chronic pneumonias and a heart condition, Sarah continued to survive.

During those precarious initial days spent in the hospital, Terry wrote this song:

SARAH’S SONG

May God bless and keep you always, my precious little daughter.

May His Holy Spirit guide you through each day.

May you seek ye first the kingdom and drink from living waters.

May you walk upright and follow Jesus’ way.

This song became her father’s prayer for her. God certainly answered that prayer, not only did Sarah survive but she has grown up to become the person described in that song.

“There were so many times that Sarah almost died,” says Kathy, “it was obvious that God wanted her here.”

OAK TREES IN UNUSUAL PLACES

sarah-and-momWhen people first meet Sarah, they have no idea the struggles and victories that she has experienced.  All they see before them is a young woman in a tiny package whose joy and love for Jesus overflow like a bubbling brook. It’s hard to imagine that this young, passionate prayer warrior began life as a medically fragile baby who walked the fine line of life and death.

During those intense days in the hospital, a family friend came to share a dream which she had about Sarah. She saw a huge oak tree in Sarah’s hospital room, growing up and out, through the doors and windows, a tiny bassinet at the base of this massive tree. She asked, “What does this mean, Lord, why is  this tree in the room with this tiny baby so frail and laboring even to breath?”

The Lord answered, “The oak tree is a picture of Sarah’s spirit.  I have placed inside of her a spirit that is strong and mighty like this oak tree.”

“But how can this be?” The woman asked.  And the answer came, “With God, all things are possible.”

After two and a half months, the doctors agreed that Sarah was too sweet to die in the hospital so she was sent home to live out her days with her family. But Sarah didn’t die – in fact she began to thrive.

When Sarah entered third grade, she was quiet, withdrawn, and followed her teacher around like a lost puppy dog. “Sarah, you have a powerful woman inside of you and we’re going to get her to come out!”

By the end of sixth grade, as Sarah graduated elementary school, that same teacher after three years of working with her, wrote  this note:

Dear Sarah,

In some ways, I don’t think I’ve learned the lessons that you’ve tried to teach me, the lessons of patience and unqualified love. Give me some time, Sarah, I’m a young soul, you’re an old tree, I’m a nut at your feet. Thank you most of all for your understanding and endearing spirit.

When I first met Sarah nearly six years ago at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat, a camp specifically designed for families touched by disabilities, I was greeted with a hug smile and an outstretched hand as Sarah said, “Hi, what’s your name?”  At 20 years of age, Sarah stood somewhere near four feet tall and was not much bigger around than my own thigh!  But inside was a giant personality! Sarah viewed everyone as her friend, greeting and smiling at each person that she came in contact with.

I have had the pleasure of watching this young woman blossom and mature spiritually as she has literally grown into that huge oak tree, stepping into the calling that the Lord has placed on her life.  Over the past few years, I’ve especially noticed this change and as I sat and talked with her mother in their Aptos apartment one morning after camp this past July, I found out why.

A PHONE CALL FROM GOD

img_7551It was early in 2003 that Sarah started praying out loud to God.  She would get into bed at night and for at least a half an hour, she would be talking in a low, very conversational voice to God, mostly asking for help for her friends.  When she saw that some of her prayers were being answered, she got so excited and a new facet of joy came through her sunshine personality.  In March of that year, Sarah had her first dream which seemed to carry a spiritual message.”

Her mom began writing them down, the following is her account of the first one and their conversation about the dream.

“In my dream, the Lord called me on the phone and asked if I wanted to come up to his house.  When I got there, it was a very big house with lots of people in this one room at a big meeting.  I went in and took a seat, quietly hoping not to interrupt the meeting.  Just then, the Lord called me to come up to the front. I thought to myself, ‘Oh no, is he going to embarrass me in front of all of these people?’

I went up there and stood by Jesus and he put his hand on my shoulder. I looked around, trying to find someone I knew in the crowd but the only ones I recognized were the disciples who were sitting in the front row. I didn’t know how I knew who they were, but I remember realizing those were the disciples.

“This is my servant, Sarah,” the Lord said. “Sarah, I wanted you to know that I really like how you’ve been calling to me in prayer every night before you go to sleep. Also, I wanted to tell you that prayer is a ministry, did you know that?”  I shook my head and wondered what this meant.

Then he said, “Remember all those times you had to go into surgery? Did you know that every time, I was with you?”  I hadn’t really realized it at the time but I was very glad to find that out. The next thing I knew, I woke up.”

I asked what Jesus looked like in her dream.  She said she was surprised because his hair was snow white and he had a snow white beard.

“In the book of Revelation,” Kathy writes,” the Apostle John was caught up to heaven and told to write down what he saw.  He describes the appearance of Jesus as he looks now in Heaven.  Also, in the book of Daniel, Daniel saw Jesus sitting on the Throne of God.  He is described in both places as having snow white hair.  Sarah had not read either book of the Bible nor was she aware of this description.  She did indeed discover that prayer is a ministry and now holds her own prayer meetings in our home once a month as well as collects people’s names for her prayer list.”

 

A GIRL WITH A SERMON

img_3536Two summers ago, a group of men from a church down in Dublin, California, came to our family retreat  to serve our campers by running a carnival and also to help with serving the parents at a couple’s dinner later that same night. The carnival had ended and the guys were sitting at the picnic tables out on the big redwood deck at Mission Springs. Sarah sat down on one of the large benches just at the edge of the deck and began asking this group of men some questions.  I happened to be walking by in that moment and noticed this group of men who sat, focused on our little Sarah. As she asked them questions, their eyes were growing visibly moist. I could hear several people sniffing as the crowd began growing around her. One gentleman in particular, who was deeply touched that day, wrote me this email when I asked him about that experience:

 

Dear Kara,

 

My name is Ron.   I met Sarah only for a moment but her impact was like a thunder clap.

There was a short break between the Carnival and dinner. We sat down on the deck to rest until we were called to serve.  At the time, I thought it was unusual that we all sat down in a long row, facing the open meadow, rather than in groups facing each other in conversation.  Less than 5 minutes had passed when two people walked by, one of them was a small young lady, (a child I thought).  She was wearing black rimmed glasses, and a baseball cap that was a little large on her small head. I noticed that one forearm was about half the normal length and was missing a thumb.  Her smile was charming and engaging, putting sunlight to shame.

She stopped in front of us, and like one of our carnival games, we were about to be bowled over!

She said, “Can I ask you guys a question?”

“Sure,” we replied.

Her friends were walking by and she thought it of no matter, than to stop and greet each one with a smile and a wave, then return her attention to us. She asked “What do you think is the most beautiful part of God?”

Wow!   We each answered in turn.  Some said creation, some forgiveness, and some said the gift of His Son.  She listened to each of us but at the same time so naturally greeting friends with smiles and waves, as they passed by. A fair sized crowd began to gather as many stopped to listen to her talk to these “Old Men.”

I thought, to myself, ‘This is how God hears our prayers, he is glad to hear us but He’s greeting others as they come also.’

Sarah then related to us, the pain of many surgeries, and the grief she experienced in the death of a  close friend.

“Can I ask you another question?   When you have troubles who do you turn to?”  We were stunned that this small, young woman with a strange delivery and beautiful smile, could ask us a question that would make us grown men weep.  God used her voice and he spoke directly to me,

“Come to Me when you’re burdened, when your load is a test, for My yoke is easy, My love gives you rest.”

 

Through my experience with Sarah, I had a conversation with God, which was wonderfully marvelous. I am sure that what we were witnesses to, was the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I have been a Christian for over 50 years and this was my first experience of God speaking with another’s voice.  Sarah truly is an instrument of God.

Thank you, Sarah

PRAYERFUL ENCOUNTERS

 

Just this past July, I heard that Sarah had gone to our camp speaker and asked to pray with him as our retreat was getting under way. Pastor Stephen had come from our home church in Redding and a few weeks later, I was able to ask him about his experience when Sarah prayed with him.

“Sarah came and told me that she had heard that I was the camp speaker so she asked if she could pray with me! I told her that she was the first one who had asked to pray for me! As she began praying, something amazing happened, her speech became very articulate, her thoughts seemed to clear and became so focused.”  Stephen’s eyes grew wide with wonder as he explained this all to me and I could see that Sarah’s prayer had left a lasting impression. Even weeks later, his eyes still became teary as he spoke about Sarah’s prayer, “It was almost as though while she prayed, she had no disabilities. It was so amazing, so anointed.” He stood, shaking his head from side to side, looking off into the distance.  I knew and understood what he felt, that moment had been touched with the miraculous.

Later that same week at camp, as pastors from various area churches came to visit us and get a taste for what camp is all about, our Sarah once again, became a tool in our Father’s hand. One pastor in particular, going home changed, sat down and wrote a blog about his experience with Sarah:

I talked with many of the campers but one in particular really blessed me.  Her name is Sarah.  Sarah is about 4 feet tall. One of her arms is longer than the other, she has many physical issues to deal with and her speech is slurred. Her mind is very sharp. Her enthusiasm is quite contagious. After talking with her for a few minutes she told me that she had been coming to Joni Camp for 16 years. I was shocked because she barely looked 16. She told me she was 26. And then with passionate enthusiasm she said, “I am a prayer warrior!”

 

She told me how she visited nursing homes near her house and prayed regularly for the elderly who resided there. Sarah said, “I really have compassion on those people. They are so lonely. But God uses me to be their friend and to pray for them.”

Then she asked me, “Can I pray for your church?”

“Absolutely.”  I replied.

She explained to me that this would not be a onetime prayer.  She let me know that she would be praying everyday for Evergreen Valley Church. What happened next was a real God thing. She began praying and praying and praying. In the prayer circle with me and Sarah were:  Greg, Marv, Sarah’s STM and someone else Sarah had invited in. There we were, holding hands, all huddled up in a sanctuary of God’s presence. We were being led there by a four foot girl in a disabled body.  The more she prayed, the more blessed I felt. After about 15 minutes she was wrapping up her prayer session. She didn’t say the usual, “In Jesus Name, I pray,” but she started laughing. It was as if the Holy Spirit was filling her heart with the joy of Jesus and it was spilling out of her in unashamed laughter!  And finally she shouted, “I love Jesus!”  And that was it. The prayer was over. The blessing accomplished!

I have had a lot of people pray for me over the years, but no one prayed more beautifully and blessed me more wonderfully than little Sarah.

Someone said, “Souls who find their joy in God can never be disabled.”  I saw that in Sarah.  I saw God in her life and in her prayer and through her laughter and it was a joy to behold.

Here’s another blessing:  our church is going to be just fine. Sarah is praying for us every day!

Pastor Tim

“MOM, I’LL REMEMBER THIS DAY FOREVER!”

The day I sat down to talk with Kathy, Sarah came home from her day program. I asked them if they were going to be able to go hear Nick Vujicic who was going to be speaking at a church near them.  They told me that they would make it a priority to attend!

“Sarah, so many people come up to Nick and ask him to pray for them. Sarah, you ask Nick if you can pray for him!” I told her.

“Ok, I will!”  Her eyes sparkled as she smiled right back at me, undaunted by the task I’d just given her.

Greg and I were able to spend some time with Nick the day before he spoke and I told him about my friend Sarah who would be coming.

Kathy later wrote me this email about their experience with Nick:

We got there at 9:30am this morning and got a seat in the 3rd row so Sarah could see.  The worship was so beautiful then Nick came on and gave the most amazing, anointed, funny, heart-grabbing message I’ve heard in a long time.  Wowie, I laughed and cried the whole time!  Sarah so identified with him, she was hanging onto every word, especially when he mentioned Jeremiah 11 and Psalm 139, she kept nudging me because these are two of her favorite scriptures.  When Nick finished, about 300 people came forward to receive the Lord and then went behind the stage to meet with him afterwards.

In the mean time, we were hungry and they were having a BBQ lunch, so we went to eat.  While we were sitting there, I told Sarah that she needed to give up wanting to meet Nick because I thought he was gone since he had to catch a plane to Australia after meeting with all of the people who had received Christ.  She was fine with that, although SHE really believed she would meet Nick.

God has a way of moving mountains for this girl, I’ve seen it happen time and time again.  As we were leaving, there he was, coming towards us in his power chair with a woman walking next to him.

I told Sarah, “Here’s your moment if you want to meet him!”

She walked right up to him and introduced herself, “Hi, Nick, I’m Sarah!”

He responded, “Give me a hug Sarah!” and she threw her arms around him.

“I just loved your message, Nick and I’m a friend of Kara’s.”

He stopped and said, “Wait a minute, hold everything, are you the Sarah who knows Kara from Joni and Friends?”

When she answered affirmatively, he said, “Kara told me all about you and I was hoping I could meet you today.”  Then he said, “Walk with me Sarah, let’s talk.”  He took her to his booth and introduced her to his team and they talked for a couple of minutes.

Sarah told him she would be praying for him and he said, “Wait a minute, will you pray for me right now?”  Nick asked her if she would lay hands on his head as he leaned toward her everyone fell silent. There were at least 25 or 30 people standing around watching this reverently.

She agreed (she wasn’t the least bit nervous).  She was what I refer to as, “intoxicated by the Holy Spirit.” Sarah prayed the most beautiful prayer over him, for God to give him strength, wisdom, etc. It was such a Holy Spirit moment she can’t remember what she prayed and neither do I!   All I know is she never repeated herself, it wasn’t too long and everything she said was appropriate!

Nick thanked her for a beautiful prayer and told his team to give her a DVD.

When Kathy shared this experience with me, the implication to me was profound.  Jesus had appeared to this young woman in a dream, several years earlier, explaining that prayer was her ministry. A simplistic dream, it started with a phone call, Jesus appeared to her in a way that she could fully identify with and fully understand.  Sarah took her given ministry very seriously, stepping out in faith to pray for people, from those in convalescent hospitals, families at camp, teachers and pastors and the latest, a young man, the very same age as Sarah, his physical disabilities just as profound, no arms, no legs but who God is using as a mouth piece to reach people by the millions, who is being featured in TV shows, movies, magazines and books. I believe that Sarah stood before Nick in those moments and did not grope for words that would impress others around her.  I believe that she didn’t have to search to try to express her thoughts eloquently or in the right sequence in order for her prayers to be heard and answered.  I believe that Jesus had given Sarah a mission and as she stood before Nick, she was quite simply, without a second thought, pursuing it.

ONE MOM’S VIEW

kk-n-sarah-2006Sarah and Kathy have worked through many difficult issues together including the break-up of Kathy’s marriage but God’s faithfulness has been more than evident.  Kathy explained to me that Sarah has been in and out of hospitals at least 30 times over the years, her visits are too numerous to count.  When she was younger, she would stop breathing, had numerous pneumonias, and still has a shunt which is a tube implanted in her brain that prevents the build-up of fluids. This tubing needs to be surgically replaced about every 6-8 years. In addition, she’s had numerous other surgeries to repair irregular organs but it has been three years since she’s had any health issues and now, she’s enjoying a time of being very healthy.

“You’d think Sarah would want to stay as far away from hospitals or sick people as she could get but the opposite is true,” says Kathy.  “Sarah loves visiting friends in the hospital and she is compelled to make regular visits to a local rest home where she knows many patients by name and loves to visit, comfort and pray with them.”

When she talks about Sarah, it is unmistakable that Kathy has been deeply touched by the life of her daughter in a very profound way.  Her eyes light up so very quickly as she talks about the joys and they also become misty just as quickly, when she talks about how Sarah has struggled, but there is not one hint of the type of thinking that calls disability a “burden.”  It is obvious in this relationship, that quite often, Sarah has become the teacher, Kathy the student:

“As long as Sarah is in my life I will be learning new things from her, especially about the very nature and character of God.  As a passionate Christian I had spent lots of time in Bible Study and five years soaking up the wonderful teachings of Sunday morning church services.  I really thought I had a handle on understanding the character of God. However when Sarah came along, God began to turn upside down, many things I had believed about Him – specifically how he works in and through adversity in the lives of His children.  I went from the gross misconception that Jesus was some kind of insurance which protected me from adversity to realizing that to really follow Him was to walk through the very door of adversity.

Her simple, fragile, innocent ways reach out to me, as she squeals with enthusiasm when she sees the sunset, as she races downstairs bursting with the news that she turned on her radio to discover her favorite song is playing. “Mom, I just love how God does stuff like that for me!”  That favorite song, by the way, is about going to Heaven.

To experience the love and the joy of a person like Sarah has opened my eyes to that unique kind of love that God has for each one of us.  From birth and through her darkest hours, Sarah has had a companion and that is joy.  She has modeled for me God’s joy, not a feeling but an attitude.  She brought with her a storm. Jesus was there to carry me through that storm like the footsteps in the sand. That has deepened my faith in Him and sealed my love for Him forever.  Next to salvation, Sarah has been God’s greatest gift to me. While I’m dodging lightning bolts and pleading with God to remove the storm, I find that Sarah is dancing in the rain.”

sarah-horse

Comments

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  1. It would be near impossible in the modern world to know just how good God is if it weren’t for people like Sarah. Just like any other Bible story, she has a very real story for each of us. :)

  2. Sarah, I love you dearly and I am so proud of you!!! What a beautiful story God is writing in your life!! I feel very privileged and honored to be your friend. Love and hugs, Amber <3

  3. Thank you for writing this article and sharing these stories about Sarah! I feel so privileged to have met and visited with her for a few minutes at Family Retreat this summer. I’m so inspired by her prayer ministry and joy in life!

  4. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful spirit with us! Bless Sarah’s sweet joyful heart!

  5. I should have grabbed a box of kleenex before reading this! So very beautifully written! Sarah continues to bless me as she is a display of God’s beauty and joy! Thanks Sarah for all of your encouragement!

  6. How much richer my life and the lives of others are because Jesus brought us together in love and friendship through Family Retreats. You sparkle like a bright shining diamond Sarah. Love and Joy, that is you our precious Prayer Warrior!

  7. You are beautiful Sarah!!! You sparkle with God’s radiance and you are a wonderful reminder to me that God does not make mistakes! Meeting you and your Mom years ago at Joni and Friends was such a blessing and your friendship and our fellowship continue to be a treasure to Rod and I. Thank You for being a faithful servant of Our King Jesus.

  8. What a beautiful story. We have known Sarah almost her whole life. She is an amazing woman of God. After reading this though, I feel like she is a celebrity. Beautiful writing, pictures and testimony to a God who loves deeply. Now, we need it in book form.

  9. Sarah, you don’t know me but I know you…through your beautiful and talented mother. I hear about you from time to time, and now to read your beautiful, beautiful story–almost seemlingly written by God himself–I feel like we’ve always been in touch. Both women of God, I have a soft place in my heart for you, beautiful spirit. So wise, so natural…a breath of fresh air. Sweetheart, you’ve touched my life now. I see that God has truly blessed you and your family. A story for everyone to appreciate.

    In Him,
    Melissa

  10. I find the greatest thing about God is His great and awesome LOVE, and how He holds me in His WONDERFUL ARMS through all of the STORMS of LIFE.

    Thank you so much for your faithfulness throughout all of the STORMS and STRUGGLES of LIFE you’ve gone through, and still come out smiling with the JOY of GOD on your face.

    Grace, Mercy, Peace and Love Multiplied to you (Sarah) from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

    Your Friend and brother in Christ Jesus – Keith

  11. I’ve always been amazed with Sarah. Now I am more than amazed. Thanks for sharing her beautiful story of a life well lived.

  12. Sarah! You are a miracle! God’s miracle. I love, love, love learning so much more about you and your incredible life journey. The Lord has his oak trees and you are one of them. I love you and am so glad to be your friend.

  13. I have been so honored and blessed to have had the privilege of working alongside Sarah at her day program since 2005. Knowing her has enriched my life and has brought me so much joy. Her care and concern for myself and for others beautifully reflects the love of God. Reading these stories has built my faith in a profound way. Thank you, God, for Sarah!!!!

  14. Wow, Sarah, incredible website and/or story!

    You truly are a “giant oak” among the rest of us mere acorns when it comes to being filled with the Holy Spirit and Christ-like joy!

    You’re a gift to the Church and the world, Sarah!

    I am so grateful to know you and to have the weekly opportunity to be blessed by you!

    Try to stay out of jail,

    Paul

  15. Dear Sarah,

    As a friend of your mother’s-before you were a twinkle in your parents eyes-my heart was stirred and deeply touched by your powerful story. It reinforced to me how God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. God used all the suffering and pain you endured to mold you into His character and reflect his great love and compassion for all mankind. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope to meet you some day.

    Kathy

  16. Hi Sarah! Kathy Thill here! I am SO TOUCHED reading how Jesus is using you in prayer ministry! I didn’t know we share the same passion for praying! :)

    I can’t begin to tell you how much reading this article has touched my heart…tears fill my eyes as I read it! GOD IS SO AMAZING, ISN’T HE, SARAH!!

    You have such a special mom – I love her so much, I love your dad, and I LOVE YOU SO much!!

    GOD IS USING YOU IN BIG WAYS, and HE IS NOT NEARLY FINISHED with ALL HE HAS FOR YOU TO DO!! HE LOVES the love you have for Him!! I can feel how much YOUR LOVE towards God touches His heart!!

    People’s lives are being changed because of you, Sarah, and your heart of love for Jesus. Way to go!! High Five!!

    I am sending my LOVE through this, even now!
    Love you, sweetheart!

  17. Sarah, I love your story and I love the way our Lord and Savior
    works in your life. I so much admire your mom.

    Your story has encouraged me to pray; believe; and love.
    God bless you, Sarah.

  18. Hi Sarah. I was just thinking of you the other day. What a blessing you are. I’ll have to get you to pray for me too. Love you. Peter

  19. Sarah, thank you for sharing your life–and your prayer ministry–with so many of us. When we make plans to tell stories of amazing faith, yours is often one we think of first. Thank you for listening carefully to the Shepherd’s voice and for persevering so very amazingly! Thank you for sharing your amazing story, which will encourage so many people.
    Love you lots, Debbie

  20. What a great article, and how true. I am so blessed to get to spend time with Sarah at camp and to see her loving people, she doesn’t know a stranger. She challenges me by the love she so freely gives everyone. Sarah is a gift to the body of Christ. Thanks Kathy for raising a very special young lady, I know there have been many hard times for you but God has brought you through them all. He is FAITHFUL!! Hope to see you both at camp in 2010.
    Love and blessings, Judy

  21. My dear Sarah,

    Praise God for introducing us through Joyful Noise. I’ll never forget when you introduced yourself to me during Joyful Noise orientation. It has been many years since then and i am so honored to be your friend. You have taught me that God loves unconditionally and that “nothing is impossible with God”. When you ask me if i have a prayer request, i know you are sincere and will pray for me. Through your joyfullness and trust in The Lord, I have grown in my Christian walk. Love you lots Sister in Christ, Karen

  22. Sarah, you are an amazing woman of God!

  23. Dear Sweet Cousin Sarah,

    As I recall, I first met you when your were either 2 or 3 years old. I was on a business trip in southern California and had made advance plans with your mom (who is my first cousin) to come over that evening to see her and to meet both you and your dad for the first time. Your mom, along with your dad and you lived in Long Beach at the time. I had not seen your mom in several years.

    Upon my arrival, your dad greeted me warmly at the front door as we introduced ourselves to one another. I can still feel your dad’s warmth he showed me then and throughout the evening all of these years later. Your dad invited me into the living room. A few seconds later in came your mom who gave me big warm hug. Shortly afterwards, you woke up from a nap. Your mom quickly disappeared and seconds later she returned with a sparkle in her eyes and you in her arms. You were all smiles and a very happy little girl. I could see the deep love both of your parents had for you by looking into their eyes when they looked at you.

    After a few minutes, your mom placed you with your feet on the floor and introduced me to you as your “Uncle” Rob. Obviously we are technically first cousins once removed but my heart immediately warmed when your mom referred to me as your “Uncle” Rob, even though it was a honorary title, I took that as a great honor.

    As soon as your mom placed you on your feet on the floor I quickly dropped down to the floor on my knees, knowing you could walk and stretched out my arms to you. As soon as your mom released you, you immediately headed straight into my arms. While still on my knees, with you in my arms, you looked into my eyes and stole my heart. That is the first time I said “Hello Sarah”. I picked you up and sat back down on the couch with you on my lap and held you. I instantly felt an incredibly warm and a mysterious presence about you, yet I could not understand what it was. I can still distinctly remember you were such a very happy bubbly little girl that entire evening I was there.

    Later your Grandma Georgia came over and we all had a wonderful visit but with you as the center piece of course.

    Because my family and your family have always lived in different states, we did not see one another for a long time. Even so, I always kept in touch with your mom and later you too, with letters, e-mails, and occasional telephone calls. The next time I saw you and your mom was 14 or 15 years later in 2000. I again was on a business trip, this time in Santa Cruz, California, nearby where you and your parents had moved to years before.

    I met you, your mom, and a family friend of you and your mom’s, whose name escapes me at the moment, at a restaurant for dinner. You and your Mom gave me big warm hugs and your family friend gave me a warm hearted hand shake. Much to my delight, you insisted on sitting next to me at the dining table. Again I instantly felt that incredibly warm and mysterious presence about you as I did in 1985, however, this time the feeling was much stronger. Before, during and after the dinner, you were bubbly, very talkative, and very excited about my visit, which warmed my heart to no end since you were too young to remember my first visit. You made me feel extra special. Your presence lit up the whole area surrounding us that night. I warmly remember that you and I visited, laughed, and joked along with your mom and your family friend. I also remember that you and I hugged each other many times while we were all laughing throughout the dinner and afterwards. The 14 to 15 year time period we had not seen one another had simply disappeared for me. I felt an immediate bonding with you that remains with me today and a feeling of love for you as if I had seen you everyday of your life.

    The four of us visited long after we finished our dinner and we had a delightful and laughter filled time that evening. Upon my departure, I again got big warm hugs from you and your mom and another warm hearted handshake from your family friend.

    Before I share with you what I am convinced is the warm and mysterious presence I feel when I’m around you Sarah, you need to understand something about me. I am not a religious person like you and your mom, although I highly respect that in both of you. I do believe in a God whom I think of as a Supreme Being and I also believe all living creatures have souls that live forever. Lastly, I believe in angels, but not the type with wings necessarily.

    While driving back to my motel that evening in 2000, I finally discovered what that incredibly warm and mysterious presence was that I felt 14 or 15 years before and again that evening in 2000 when I was with you. Both times I have been around you, I was actually in the presence of an angel in a human form, and that angel was / is you Sarah.

    It has been ten years since I last saw you Sarah, and I have continued to keep in touch with you and your mom. To this day Sarah, I still have no doubt that you are actually an angel disguised as a human being. I believe that with all of my heart. I mean that in a literal sense and am humbled to know you are a true angel Sarah. You are a great inspiration to me and obviously to many other people too. I also have great admiration for both your mom and dad who I know love you very much.

    Always know I love you dearly Cousin Sarah and I am so very proud that you are my Cousin.

    Love Cousin Rob

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