Don't. Drop. The. Baton.

I've been thinking about Summer all day and didn't realize what today's date was until Lori reminded me. The holidays always throw me out of whack. It's funny, because I woke up feeling sad and drove through the cemetery this morning. Something drew me. I guess in the back of my mind I must have known it was the one month mark since she went home to Heaven.

I miss her, miss knowing she's there to talk life with. Often I will pick up my phone to text her about something Pastor Chris said, or a song or something funny I think would make her laugh. But then I catch myself. I can't imagine what it feels like for those that were with her every day.

So, what now?

This might sound strange to some of you, but...

Since her passing the imagery of a relay race has been in my mind. Specifically the passing of the baton. There were things she talked about doing; ministry she wanted to do. Things I shared her passion for. She talked about having a "healing place," where broken people could come and find hope, acceptance, love and wholeness through Jesus.

She never had a Place, but she carried it with her wherever she went, especially over this last year. I've heard stories from people she came into contact with at the hospital. When she felt bad she would still stop to pray for other people or share her testimony or speak words of encouragement. Even the parking attendants knew her and asked about her often. Said they missed seeing her when she stopped coming for treatments.

A couple of weeks ago I had a flashback. Picture this: a scrawny, yet tomboy-ish, 7th grade girl. At Georgia Washington Jr. High School, P.E. class, in a pair of ugly purple gym shorts, no shoes, only socks. I guess it was the track-and-field portion of the curriculum, because it was relay race day. I was the last leg for our team and the girl passing me the baton was...slow. The other team passed off the baton for the last time while I waited. Finally, I took the baton, but my opponent was a good third of the way around, ahead of me.

But...I ran like the wind. I ran like the wind in my white socks and caught up with her. Not only did I catch up, but in my white socks, no shoes, on a track formed by traffic cones in a grassy field, I overtook my opponent and won the relay race. Yes I did. Then I fell over wheezing and coughing and feeling like jelly. I remember it well. My P.E. coach was shocked. And can you believe she did not offer me a spot on the track team? But I digress.

The point is when that memory came back to me, I felt the Lord tell me that's what I am to do now. Summer has passed the baton to me and I am to take it and run like the wind. I am to run my race with endurance and perseverance, run to win, and when I get to the end I will pass my baton off to someone else and they will run. And on and on it will go until the Final Finish Line is set and we don't have to run any more. I'm not the only one this is true for, though.

If you knew Summer and God used her to touch your life, then there is a sense in which she has passed a baton to you as well. Did she change the way you parent your kids? Then keep loving your kids and then teach someone else what she taught you. Did she help you get rid of baggage and hurt in your life? Then continue walking in freedom and help someone else find it. Did she introduce you to Jesus or teach you something about how to know Him in a new way? Then introduce someone else.

If anyone has made a spiritual deposit in your life, take their baton and run with it. Steward well what you've been given. There's a verse in 2 Timothy where Paul tells Timothy to, "entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others...to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well." We all have a baton to run with and, in a way, we can carry on, or finish, what someone else has started. This is God's way.

Just to seal this in my heart, last week I went to meet Sandy Brunson at the cemetery to show her where Summer's plot is. Through a series of events I ended up driving her to her house, and as we drove down the street a young girl came running out of her house to get something from her car. Sandy said, "That girl was in the Olympics." I said, "Really? Wow." She said, "Yeah. Her event was the relay. {Pause} She dropped the baton." I said what a shame that was, but still, even that she got there was amazing. That's a lot more than I could do. I thought what are the odds that this series of events would take place, to get me on Sandy's street at that exact moment, for this girl to come outside, and...

Then it hit me. "Ashley. Don't drop the baton!"

Whoa. I'm listening.

I believe I will be in Heaven one day, and that will be amazing in and of itself, but I don't just want to get there. I want to have run my race, "in such a way as to get the prize." (1 Cor. 9:24) I want to have done everything God had for me to do, love the people He called me to love, serve where He wants me to serve, keep the faith and bring glory to His name. I want to leave nothing undone.

And within that I believe there are some things that Summer dreamed about doing that I need to live out. I have no idea what that looks like, but I do know that I can't get caught up in regrets, and wishing I had said this, or done that, or whatever, which I find myself doing sometimes. I have to keep my eyes fixed on the finish line. And RUN.


  1. Hey Ashley! That was beautifully written and it gave me the chills! Love ya sweet friend!

  2. Amen and Amen! You WILL run your race and win! And continue to touch many lives along the way for the glory of God. And if you do drop your baton, stop and pick it up and keep going, running your race on the track God has you on.
    (Micah 7:8/similar)Love you, Mom


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