Contributor: Sara Carmichael, 26 (Sara on the left, Ciera on the right of picture)
On October 26, 2015 at 6:02 pm, Ciera went Home to be with the Lord. She was 23.
The mere sentence steals my breath and makes my heart squeeze. I’ve only written it, or said it out loud a handful of times. It’s too painful. Ciera won her battle with cancer. She won an amazing life in the arms of Jesus…
And that knowledge doesn’t stop my breath from catching every time I think of her. Or when people ask me how I am. Sometimes I am just able to stare at them with wide eyes. I don’t know how I am today.
From outside of myself looking in, I think this is interesting because I normally express my feelings outwards to everyone, but this feels too close and too sacred to share at times. Sometimes I think that grief is holy. Other times, I feel too fragile. It feels too fresh. She feels too young… But I know He has allotted all of our days before our first breath and no one is too young to fly into His arms…
Ciera’s family asked that I would speak at her funeral. For days and nights…for hours I wrestled and prayed that He would speak for me and that those that attend would see Jesus. My prayer was that God would be glorified so much so that people who did not know Him would come to know Him. Not because of my words or because of her life, but because of His presence. Several have asked me to share what they called “my tribute” on Facebook, but I felt my blog was a more appropriate place for my speech.
My speech is below:
Some of you may think I’m up here to talk about the friendship I had with Ciera, but I’m not. I’m here to tell you about what God has taught me through our friendship, so you might know Him through her death, like I came to know Him more through her life.
Ciera’s beauty is too much to encapsulate. I’ve struggled for words, because to tell you she was beautiful isn’t enough. Her beauty radiated. Not just through her attitude and smile, but through her spirit.
Her spirit of beauty taught me so much. I hope you are paying attention so you can learn too. She taught me that beauty starts in the heart and almost always starts with the words “thank you”. Ciera said “Thank you” different than any person I’ve met. How she treated me said “thank you”, her smile said “thank you”. When she had no strength to visit, she found ways to say “thank you”. It astounds me. She taught me that the character of God starts with thankfulness. That’s something I’ll never forget.
Ciera taught me what it means to love and laugh and embrace adventure. Whether that means we were snowboarding on the side of a mountain with a terrified me yelling at her to leave me- or we were bravely walking into a new small group at church. Her sense of courage and adventure taught me that it’s okay to love and laugh and see life lightly. She taught me to enjoy my time here and quit taking things so seriously.
Watching Ciera talk to and bond with children is another kind of beauty she possessed that always left me jealous. The way Ciera could talk to any kid and get them to open up about their adventures made me see the true spirit of care in her. She was never afraid to step into their space and expand it. She would make best friends out of strangers wherever we went- the beach, the hospital, the coffee house.
Ciera’s spirit of beauty taught me how to see people- really see them. See into them and step into their lives and do life with them, because I’ve learned if you’re not making a point to do life with people, you aren’t truly living.
Ciera taught me the art of openhanded living. To always keep my hands open regardless of who’s around and how much I want them to stay. Because I can’t give and receive with closed tight fists! Open handedness led me to Ciera and allowed us to receive such a beautiful friendship. Open handedness allowed us to give and receive what God offered us through our friendship. Open handedness allowed me to let the Lord work in us and through us.
So because of Ciera’s beauty and friendship, I am changed. I’ll never be the same again. Her relationship with Christ and the strength she got from Him is a testimony to me. The way she’s lived out her many “thank you’s” and the way she chose to see people and do life with them has changed me.
I hope her beauty changes you too. I hope you walk out of here giving glory to God that you will never the be the same because of the way she lived.
Ciera, I will forever miss you and love you. Every time I say “thank you”, you flash through my mind. My prayer is God gets HIS glory through your life. Go run on streets of gold, my friend. I love you.
You can read more about Sara Carmichael’s adventures on http://Scarmichaelblog.wordpress.com