A few weeks ago, I got to attend the Volunteer Leadership Conference put on by the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. The conference was held here in Atlanta this year which was nice for us locals. I got to meet many new people from all across the country who are all united by a common goal – working together to help cure the kids. It was a wonderful weekend and I enjoyed every bit of it.
One of the people I got to meet at the VLC was a man named Bobby Newman. I had heard about Bobby from my coworker and dear friend Tammy. She met Bobby previously and had had given her one of his hand-made bells which she often wears to clinic visits. So, this year I got to meet Bobby and right off the bat I could tell he was a genuinely kind and faithful person. When we first met, as I often do, I asked how he was doing. Bobby’s answer, which I have come to find out he was known for, was…”I am blessed.” I liked that because it wasn’t the standard answer of “I’m fine” AND it was genuine. Bobby lived serving a mighty God and he knew that he was, in fact, blessed. As we chatted, he gave me one of his bells. Well, that thrilled me because I really wanted one because I knew he handmade them AND I knew the story behind them. I got him to tell me the story again. He told me that every time the bell chimes, it’s a reminder of God’s love for us. AND, he went on to say that every bell has its own individual chime sound which is also a reminder of how God made each and every one of us unique. Isn’t that so cool? I just love it! And, I loved my bell! That evening he went on to give bells to our Stars (brain tumor survivors) who attended a dinner at the event. Our sweet friend Anna is blind now as a result of her tumor and surgery and when Bobby gave her a bell, the joy she felt in receiving it was beautifully evident on her face. I have a photo of the two of them together and their smiles are just incredible! He was living out his calling and she was the recipient of a magnificent gift from a truly amazing soul. It was a great moment and I felt honored to be there to witness it.
On Friday, Bobby was posting on Facebook that he was out visiting dealerships for Ride for Kids. He had such a passion for the mission of Ride for Kids and it was evident. He would post after each dealer visit and it was fun “watching” his daily travels on Facebook. He even took the time that day to share a story that Anna’s mom had shared on Anna’s FB prayer page and wrote some very nice things about Anna in his post. I didn’t know that would be the last time I would “like” something that Bobby wrote, but it was. He was killed in an accident on Friday. Anna’s mom, who is a dear friend, texted me to look on Facebook because our bell making Santa friend had died. Neither of us could believe it. He was taken way too soon, in my opinion, but nothing takes our God by surprise. Bobby received his heavenly homecoming while he was out doing something near and dear to his heart. And doing, what I believe, was a calling on his life by God. He was adding on to his legacy until his last minute on this earth.
Today, my buddy Bobby will be laid to rest in Indiana. I can’t be there to pay my respects in person, but I will continue to keep his family and loved ones in my prayers. And, I will treasure my handmade bell all the more. I have put it on my key-chain for now so that it will chime often to remind me of God’s love for me AND to remind me to keep driving toward my own passions for helping others just like Bobby did.
All of this got me thinking on a number of levels, but one was this — what will my legacy be? Bobby’s legacy is one of strong faith, deep convictions, and an abiding love for family and friends. He lived his calling. And, that’s what I want my life to be about too. When I fly away from here, I want to be remembered with smiles and if you really know me — with laughter. I want to live out my life in such a way that it’s evident that I have faith in God that I try to exemplify even though I’m flawed. I want to be remembered one day as someone who genuinely and truly LOVED her family and her friends. I want to be a champion for kids who battle cancer and especially kids who battle brain tumors. And, I don’t mean champion as in I want it to be about me. Not at all. What I mean is, I want to be someone who gets in there and fights the good fight against childhood cancer and comes alongside families with support. That’s what I mean there. I want my life to mean something. I want to leave the world better than I found it. Just like my friend Bobby left this world. It’s a better place because he was in it, for sure. He touched lives for the good.
I know that life is but a vapor. I know some days we don’t have our best to give. But, the building of a legacy is more than just a day. It’s a lifetime well lived. It’s building the memory of who we were based on who we ARE in the time we have. My prayer is that my life and legacy will point heavenward. More than anything, I want to be salt and light for Jesus in this world. Through the cracks and flaws, I hope He shows through me and my life’s works.
Rest in peace, Bobby. I am sure heavens bells are ringing a little sweeter now that you’re there.
The bell Bobby gave me is on my key-chain
right next to my cross.