What better celebration of life than two people coming together in marriage?
Today, roughly two years after meeting, and a year-long engagement, my older sister is getting married. She’s the first one of the siblings to tie the knot, and the last two weeks have essentially been a celebration fest with family, friends, and laughter. I wish it could last forever; I think we were all made to celebrate, make new friends, eat tons of good food, and dance.
Today also happens to be the day I get the chance to bless a family who recently lost a daughter/sister/friend who was near and dear to everyone she came in contact with. A few months ago, Julia Tarter suddenly passed away, far younger than anyone expected. It was a devastating blow to her family and loved ones, and even I, who primarily interacted with Julia from afar, felt the impact that her life had on those around her.
Her church family gathered at Northpoint Community church two months ago for the best memorial service I have ever attended, during which we all received small cards with a date stamped on it; whatever date you received was your day to somehow, in your own way, remind the Tarter family of what a joy and blessing Julia was to you. So you can imagine what day I got (and how my sister and I chuckled when we saw October 11th was the day).
If you watched or attended the service, you may have heard Clay talk about a guy who possesses nigh-superhuman dancing abilities, and while that may be slight hyperbole, for the purpose of this post I’m willing to let it slide. My first encounter with Julia was back in 2009, during my first ‘The Walk’ attendance as a high school small group leader. Having been a bboy (breakdancer) for about 7 years of my life at this point, I found myself in a 100 + person dance competition, and somehow made it down to the final, against none other than (you guessed it) Miss Julia Tarter herself.
Let me tell you; I’ve danced on stages in front of thousands, at competitions, and halftime performances, but this girl was intimidating. Some people can memorize a few moves and fewer still some are comfortable being in the spotlight, but Julia was straight groovin all night and I knew the longer this thing went on the more likely I was to come out bruised and emotionally scarred from losing. Don’t let my cool demeanor fool you, I’m ultra competitive ;-).
A few intense rounds later, I somehow ended up the winner, and to this day I felt like Julia was robbed of her glory. I actually found her shortly after and told her this, and tried to give her the victor’s crown I had received. She wouldn’t accept it at first, but finally did after some prodding. As I remember it, she came up to me about 10 minutes later and gave it back, saying that I should have it.
If nothing else, that’s the kind of person she was in my eyes, making the people around her better, striving to give the best that they could offer. I think people like that make us feel truly alive. And while I plan on sending the crown she gave back to me that night to her family as soon as I find it, all of us at that memorial service those few weeks ago know that she already has a crown much more glorious than the one I tried to give her that night. 1 Corinthians 9:25 says that those who strive and work for the Gospel of Jesus Christ will receive a crown that will last forever, and I know with certainty that Julia is straight flexin her’s 24/7 in heaven right now.
So on the dance floor today at my sister’s wedding, you can bet Julia will get a shout out in my mind for not being afraid to have fun and go all out. To her family, I hope you know how large an impact she had on this world.