Yesterday, I sat in a room with hundreds of other people as we bid our final goodbye to Samantha Woodcock, a 12-year-old girl who was tragically taken in a car accident last week. Literally, hundreds of people gathered in a local church, Samantha’s home church, to mourn together and to celebrate her life. The room was beautiful, a true tribute to the beautiful soul that was Samantha.

Before the service started, I sat looking around the room in awe at the impact this one little girl had on our town. Her short life had touched more people than some people will ever know in a life that spans 80 or 100 years. I wondered to myself if I were to pass away today, who would be there to celebrate my life. I knew that my life would never have the impact that Samantha’s had. As I looked around, a small red monkey on the podium caught my eye… I knew it must have been Samantha’s favorite toy.

As I looked around, a small red monkey on the podium caught my eye… I knew it must have been Samantha’s favorite toy. Towards the end of the service, the pastor addressed the little red monkey and told the story about how this monkey had gone on great adventures, how this monkey was a part of their family, and how he was so incredibly special because he was loved by Samantha. He then addressed the numerous teenagers who were in the crowd and told them that their life had value, they were loved, and they were special. He assured them that they are loved by God and that alone made their life have value.

I thought to the number of times in my own teenage life when I questioned my own worth and I wondered how many of the kids sitting in the room needed that reminder. My eyes spilled over with tears as a flood of emotions washed over me. In that moment, I resolved to make sure that everyone I encountered knew their worth.

I have always wanted my life to mean more, I have always wanted for people who encounter me to know they are loved… Samantha just drove the point home even more. I encourage you, in the new year, to join me as I spread the message of Samantha’s Red Monkey. Tell people you love them. Take the time to be nice and smile, offer a hug or an encouraging word, pray for someone, or simply give your time to someone you love. It only takes a moment, but the impact it will make is worth so much.







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