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"Danielle's Legacy"


"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NKJV)

"What makes a legend? Is it what someone did when they were alive, or how they're remembered after they're gone? In either case there is no question that Danielle is a shinning star! Though its been 5112 days or 13 years 11 months and 30 days depending on how you look at it since Danielle Marie Gould stepped into eternity at the age of 17 there still is yet to be a day that goes by when she isn't thought of, missed and her absence felt by those that knew and loved her. Today is one of those days her not being here is felt a lot more than usual as today is the day when her Mom hosts a "Purity" event in Danielle's memory for women of all ages. The event is known as "Danielles Legacy" and is an annual event held on the Saturday closest to the date Danielle went home to be with Jesus. Before Danielle's passing she had approached her mom and asked her if she could put together a bible study that Danielle's friends and their moms could attend and do together with Danielle and her mom regarding sexual purity and what the Bible teaches about relationships.

Because she loved people Danielle was very much aware of the pain many of her high school friends were experiencing due to the poor choices they were making regarding their sexuality and she understood from studying the Bible that God has a plan for relationships that both glorifies Him and brings satisfaction to men and women, young and old alike who reject the worlds definitions of marriage and family and instead choose to follow Jesus. 

Danielle went home to be with Jesus before she and her mom could do the study, so Sherrill, Danielle's Mom determined to fulfill her daughters wish by hosting an annual event and a subsequent small group study on purity in relationships in her daughter's honor. At first the group consisted mostly of the girls in our church and their moms and many of our singles. As the years have continued on the event has expanded to include girls of all ages, junior high, high school, college age and single, married or divorced, regardless of anyones beliefs about purity or God, an invitation is extended. 

Danielle's dream for wanting to do a bible study about purity was with the hope of reaching as many of her high school age girl friends as she could, especially those who had no idea of God's love for them and the plans He has for those who place their trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. Danielle's dream has been realized many times over now thanks to her mom and dads commitment and dedication to hosting the event each year.

My dictionary defines legacy as 1. an amount of money or property left to someone in a will. synonyms: bequest, inheritance, heritage, endowment, gift, patrimony, settlement, birthright; formal benefaction. I remember the Lord impressing upon my heart just a couple days after Danielle "left" to be with Jesus as Danielle's Dad would say, a thought so much deeper, so much more profound than simply leaving money or property behind after someone dies. I felt as if the Lord was saying to me, "A legacy isn't necessarily something a person leaves behind when they die for others to carry on as much as it is the part of the person that lives on in those they leave behind." 

You see, loved one, heaven isn't about stuff, its about people. As one of my favorite pastors often says, "you never see a hearse pulling a UHaul" and even if you did it would only be a joke as everyone knows you can't take your stuff with you when you die. Danielle took the Great Commission seriously and she made it her goal each day to reach out to someone and invite them to receive Christ and to have their name written in the Lambs Book of Life too! 

When Danielle stepped over the threshold from this life into the very presence of God she left something for us that money could never buy. She left us a model, an example, sweet memories of a life well lived for her Savior. She left an indelible mark on the hearts of her family and friends and even complete strangers as she sought to love God and love people with the love of Jesus. Danielle wanted everyone she knew to know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord and her life was a mission and the earth her mission field. The Old Testament book of Daniel tells us, "Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:3 (NKJV).

Danielle was wise beyond her years, her radiant smile could light up a room when she entered it. Call it her legacy, to me she is legendary, by Biblical definitions she's a superstar, one whose life shines as bright today as ever it did during her 17 years this side of heaven. She spent many days before her car accident pointing people to Jesus and even still her story remains the same. Danielle knew personally and shared openly that pure joy is found in Jesus! Hope is in Jesus, help to become Mrs. Right as she waited and prayed for her Mr. Right came from Jesus. Forgiveness is always available to those who seek it because of Jesus, and purity is possible as we walk with Jesus. Salvation is and will always be the gift from God. And yes you guessed it, all because of Jesus!

"What makes a legend? Is it what someone did when they were alive, or how they're remembered after they're gone? However you choose, Danielle will always be a legend to me. Her legacy will continue on as people come to know that her story is in all actuality His-story. An ordinary girl who lived an extraordinary life for the glory of God. Her light is still shinning and her testimony is still pointing people to Jesus every time its told. As I think back over her life today I realized she never said goodbye and thats actually part of the good newsAt her memorial service we didn't say goodbye to her either. Instead, we simply said, "see you soon Danielle" knowing she is more alive today than any day she walked this earth. Because, "to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord" her death wasn't the end and though we count the days since she's been gone, all 5112 of them as of today, we too who have placed our hope in Jesus are one day closer to seeing her again in glory. And what a day that is going to be then and what a comfort that knowledge is to us now! 

"Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope."

Psalm 119:49 (NKJV)


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