“Michelle, we brought the buns. Michelle, we brought the buns. We brought the hamburger buns.”
On the afternoon of Sunday, September 15, 2019 as I floated in the pool, my 7 year-old niece popped around the corner of the house into the backyard. With the typical large smile on her face, glimmer in her eye and bounce in her step, she excitedly directed my attention to the pack of Ball Park hamburger buns in her hand. She was proud of those buns and even more proud to tell me that she had brought them.
Earlier that day my husband and I purchased all the fixins’ for the afternoon grilling but he asked his sister to bring extra buns just in case. “We want to have enough and she doesn’t mind picking them up,” he said. As it turned out, we didn’t open the extra pack of buns on that day or any day since then. They remain on the bottom shelf of the pantry as I yearn for them to never spoil. Somehow they take me back. Back to the moment when she announced her arrival. Back to the opportunity to listen – and respond – sooner, better, more excitedly. Back to the chance to hug her one more time…
Ava Jane Hill went to bed that night a happy, tired little girl. As she always did, she lived life to the fullest that weekend, the weekend that would be her last on this Earth as she woke up in the arms of Jesus sometime during the night. She played hard in the softball tournament all day Saturday and declared their team “undefeatable” after two consecutive wins. They went on to win the championship. She had the ring to prove it which she declared to be “real gold and real diamonds and worth a thousand trazillion dollars.” On Sunday morning she practiced running so she could run bases faster and score homeruns. Gosh, that girl could hit a ball! Sunday afternoon she put on her “Vacay All Day” swimsuit, packed her backpack and spent the remainder of the day attempting to teach my husband the CORRECT way to do the dolphin, the frog and the back stroke techniques in the pool.
God has allowed a pack of hamburger buns to serve as a reminder of several things to me:
Listen. Listen fully, better and intentionally. There’s a big difference between hearing and listening.
Respond. Respond with joy and kindness and thoughtfulness – and excitement if it fits the occasion.
Look. Look at others with joy and love and care. Look to see Jesus in them and share Jesus with them if they don’t know Him.
Ava was the epitome of the fruits of the spirit. She lived out every single one of them. Galatians 5:22 hangs above her bed where she took her final breath and reads: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
I want to live like Ava. Today and everyday. I want to touch others the way she touched me and thousands of others. And from now until the Lord calls me to join her in eternity, I will only buy Ball Park brand hamburger buns.
My heart is crying out, “Ava, I’m living like you. Ava, I’m listening and responding and looking and sharing. Just like you. Do you see me? Would you save a burger for you and I to share?” Jesus has all the buns we’ll ever need.