(McKinsey and me, 2013 at Madison and Tanna's high school graduation party)
So many words are swimming around in my head that it's difficult to put them into coherent verbiage, and the toughest of thoughts to grasp is the reality that McKinsey will never grace our home again in physical form. She will never again come bouncing in the door with that infectious laugh and happy heart. She will never leave the girls upstairs doing their thing and come sit on our couch just to talk with Rick and me (or as Kinsey called us, Twig and Mel). This is hard. So very hard.
(McKinsey and Madison after her mom and I had rolled hair for a cheerleading competition)
(McKinsey and Madison at the SC State Fair)
My daughter, Madison, befriended the new girl, McKinsey, in Ms. Power's third grade class. The first time I met McKinsey Cook, she cozied up to my heart and I tucked her into a little nook - a unique place where I was always aware of her and her need for Christ. I loved her like my own.
Although God had created her with a contagious smile, a perky personality, and a zest for life, she was still missing something greater than herself to complete her - Jesus Christ. So, for the next 11 years, I found myself reaching out to her in many different ways to show her the love of Jesus.
During her junior year in High School, she decided to graduate early and not with her class. So, a year earlier than her friends, in the fall of 2012, she left for the University of Louisville. I was heart broken. I purchased her a new Bible, wrapped it up, and dropped it off to her at her house. I just couldn't let her leave without one more attempt.
Little did I know that she would return one year later only to attend another school in the upstate. There she goes again. Now what?
Finally, she made her way back to Columbia before that school year was over, and was home again and hanging out with the Shull "fam". Soon after, she met Jesus Christ in a very personal way. Next, she was baptized, and our family was invited to experience that with her. Madison and I organized a spiritual birthday party for her, and two other friends of Madison's that summer. I made her favorite dish (my secret spaghetti recipe). We couldn't have been more thrilled!
(The Shull fam and McKinsey)
(McKinsey and her mom, Amy)
(Spiritual birthday party: Madison, McKinsey, and Maclane)
Why did God draw me to Kinsey all those years ago and give her such a special place in my heart? I believe it was because He knew I would be burdened for her and He knew how many days He had ordained for her to live.
The last two years of her life have been all about Jesus and giving Him glory. She was one passionate young woman who understood the seriousness of living life to the full every single day and sharing the love of Christ with everyone she knew. She had led her small group of young girls to Christ. She had gone on a mission trip to Uganda and had fallen in love with ministering to the street boys. She had settled on finishing her nursing degree and then moving to Uganda as a full-time missionary.
Wow! God never ceases to amaze me!
On February 2, 2015, in the blink of an eye, through a single car crash, 20 year old McKinsey Rebecca Cook ran with all of her might into the arms of her Savior, Jesus Christ. The One who completed her. The One she loved the most and trusted. The One she wanted everyone to know, love and live for like she did. Her strong faith is now sight!