It was April of 2004 we had just bought our new home. Danielle and I were home alone unpacking. As usual we had our music cranked and we had numerous conversations going back in forth as we did each time we were together. I had just been asked by Nita who at the time was our church women’s director to pray about taking part in a new ministry that she was putting together for our young married ladies. Nita had asked me to be a mentor. Danielle began to ask me if I had made my decision to except this honor and then she began to express her heart that caused me to reconsider my decision that I had made. Danielle asked, “Why, we as the older women in the church did not mentor the young unmarried women”? She began to share, that she felt it was just as important for the older women to mentor the unmarried and that the unmarried ladies needed to be held accountable and that they needed help to remain pure for their husbands. At this point I put the unpacking aside and we sat down and took a break.
I can remember just as if it were yesterday and I can see her now in my memory, how she jumped up on her knees and leaned towards me with much excitement and said, “Mom do you know what would be so awesome?” “How about if you and I host a mother/daughter mentoring bible study and you and some of your friends could teach me and some of my friends things like how to dress modest, how to speak like ladies and how to remain pure for our husbands and for Jesus?” Danielle began to share with me how many of her friends at school did not have good relationships with their moms and how it grieved her heart to see how her friends at school and even some from church dressed, how they talked and how they acted with their boyfriends. She shared with me that most of her friends had already had sex with their boyfriends and how they would come to her broken hearted, asking for advise when their boyfriends dumped them. She shared the guilt and pain that she seen these girls live and how it hurt her to see her friends live this way.
She began planning this mother/daughter bible study with so much excitement and detail. I said, “Danielle, why don’t we just wait until we get moved in our new home and settled before we go making any plans because we have lots of work to do before this house is ready for any bible study. We then went back to unpacking and as we did we continued with our conversations and desires. It wasn’t until I was driving to work the next morning and was in prayer for my day when it was like God hit me upside the head as I realized exactly what my teenage daughter was asking. My 17-year-old daughter was asking to spend time with me. Not only that, she was asking for me to mentor her and her friends. How many teenagers do you know of that would want to spend their Saturday mornings with older women teaching and helping them to remain virgins and/or how to live a life of purity? I wept as I thanked God for my daughter’s excitement and desire.
My wheels then began spinning and I was in search of the best way to plan and prepare my daughters desire. That same day as I came home from work Danielle handed me a book called, and the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh. She told me that it was one of her favorite books and that it would be a good book for me to use if I decided to put this mentoring study together. I laughed along with tears, as I knew that she was not giving up. This desire began to be my desire but I was so scared because I had never done anything like this before and I had no clue what or how to do this but I knew that I was going to attempt to make it work. I shared Danielle’s desire with our pastors wife and she shared it with him and they both agreed and gave their approval for me to plan this mentoring bible study.
I know that it was the Lords leading and helping as many ideas began to fill my heart and head and I began to gather some women together to help me. One of the ladies that were placed on my heart was my dear friend, Gigi Border. We began sharing thoughts and had set our date for our unmarried mentoring to begin sometime in July and we were about to begin the process of all the plans and preparations when a tragedy took place in our lives. June 21, 2004 Gigi Borders 2 year old daughter, Chloe Rose Border fell in their family pool and drowned to this earth and went to live with Jesus. Of course our church family was devastated and everything was put on hold as we tended to our pain of losing Chloe. Lives where changed due to our loss and a bond in or church formed like I have never seen before. Danielle was one who not only grieved our loss of Chloe but I also seen a tremendous change in her through this experience. It caused us all to think about our lives and to think about those we love in a much deeper level. I remember the night Chloe went to heaven I was laying in bed weeping and asking my husband how Gigi was going to make it through such a horrible tragedy and it was then that I remember telling him that there was no way that I would ever be able to survive the death of one of our daughters.
Sometime during the beginning of August our young women’s mentoring study came to my mind again and I found myself discouraged that it did not take place over the summer as planned. It was planned as a 12 week study and we had it all planned that it was be completed before school started back and before Danielle’s best friend Bree went to Bible College the end of August. Though I new that we could not help what had happened that summer, I still felt in my heart that I had let Danielle down and I was trying to find a way to continue on in our desire. Danielle must have been feeling the same way because one Saturday afternoon she came home from work and again she was so excited. She began to tell me how she had looked up the author of the book that she had given me called, “and the Bride Wore White” and read where the author had a purity ministry and that she went around from state to state giving purity workshops, retreats and conferences.
Danielle had printed out some information on a weekend retreat that the author, Dannah Gresh provides. I searched it and also looked up her website and again I know that it was the Holy Spirit that began to place many thoughts and ideas in my heart. I phoned and scheduled a meeting with the women that I had spoke to months past about mentoring and we began to plan a weekend purity retreat that would take place in our home. We scheduled the retreat to be held the weekend of September 10, 11 and 12th of 2004. This worked out perfectly because Danielle’s best friend Bree would be coming home from college for the three day Labor Day weekend. We began our planning meetings and Danielle was so cute and thought that she was sneaky. During our meetings I would hear Danielle in our kitchen pretending to be busy cleaning up but fully knowing that she was ease dropping on our meeting. She could not stand the fact that she was not one of the leaders or mentors but a young lady herself who needed mentoring. Occasionally she would peak her head in our meeting and say, “ I like that idea but then she would put her ideas in too.” We often took her ideas into consideration but never wanted let her know that we liked them better than the one we had.
Our weekend purity retreat never took place either. August 20th 2004 is the date that Danielle was in an auto accident not even a mile away from our home when she was on her way home from her best friend, Bree’s house and was immediately taken to her eternal home with Jesus. Again our lives were tragically changed and again a love and bond within our family and church family grew even more. The night Danielle left earth to live with Jesus I went into a shock that I call the spiritual anesthetic. I was numb and I know that it was the Holy Spirit keeping me together and I experienced what it truly meant to be “Held” by God. It wasn’t until a couple of months later that I began to find myself angry and asking God the “WHY” questions.
I was finally getting just a small portion of my mind back, just enough to be able think and one of the things that came to my memory was our purity retreat and how again it did not happen. I began to feel so angry that I again was not able to fulfill our desire. One day I was home alone and I began to scream and yell as I stared into Danielle’s senior picture that still sits in our living room. I began to ask God, “Why we were not able to do the purity retreat and why HE allowed this to happen?” I was caught in a moment of anger and pain and found myself with my face to floor as I wailed and cried out to God with many questions. It was if time stood still and I began to feel a comforting warmth come over me as I began to think about the many journals that Danielle left behind and the contents that her journals were filled with that I had just spent the past couple months reading. I always knew that Danielle did journal but never did I read them before she left and never did I know the depths of her desire for purity until I read them. Many days I would come home from work and crawl in her bed and read her journals over and over.
As I laid on the floor and cried out to God and as I thought about Danielle’s journals and her desire for purity it occurred to me that this was more than just her desire. She had a passion for purity and her passion was not just for her to live a life of purity but that all would desire to live a life of purity pleasing to the Lord. I then began to think back at a conversation that Danielle and I had just four days before her accident. I had just walked the ladies out from one of our planning meetings and Danielle was laying on our couch when I came back in the house. She called me over to her and I sat down next to her side. She then told me how much she appreciated me going to all the work of planning this retreat and how she knew that I really wanted to do it for her. She then began to share her heart with me and tell me that she did not want to hurt my feelings and that she loved what I was doing but that we had only opened the retreat up for young women in our church and that her heart was for her friends at school. She shared how she noticed the list of young ladies who were signed up to attend our retreat were ladies who were already living a life of purity. She shared how her desire is to invite ladies who are not. We discussed how it is important for these young ladies who are currently living a life of purity to also be mentored and encouraged to continue and not let the pressures and desires allow them fall from their desire to remain pure.
I then remembered Danielle telling me how she would love it if her and I could do a mother/daughter retreat or conference together, to invite and open it to all unmarried young ladies from church but also from school. I know now that it was definitely the Holy Spirit who was bringing these thoughts and conversations to my remembrance because I was not in the right frame of mind to be able to think this clearly on my own. My outraged wailing turned into a silent weeping and sorrow as I sincerely began to ask God the, “why and what now” questions. I began to feel as if God was telling me in my heart , “I can use Danielle more now that she is with me, than I could ever use her there with you”. Those words just kept repeating themselves in my mind. At that moment I did not like what I was feeling in my heart but soon after I began to have a desire to allow God to do just that and that was to use her life, her passion and the amazing legacy that she leaves behind.
I did not share my experience with anyone for months but I thought about it often. I could not get it out of my head even in the midst of my grief and pain. I knew that I wanted to use her passion and desire even if it was to help me through my grieve process and my loss. I knew that sharing her life and her passion would help others and that God would use it to change many lives. So, months later I began to plan and prepare once again a purity conference. I could not think of a better date to hold this conference than Danielle’s one-year death date or what I like to call her new heavenly birth-date. I could not wait to look on the calendar to see what day August 20th 2005 fell on and to my amazement it just happened to fall on a Saturday. Coincidence or providence?
Looking back, again I know that it was the Holy Spirit that was leading me; carrying me and helping me plan this event with the help of my dear church family. Many of the ladies used their gifts to come along side me and help me with this new passion that I inherited from my daughter. The title, one girls PASSION…..another girls pain was actually suggested by my pastor and friend, Mike Osthimer and immediately I loved it and I knew as soon as I heard it that it was the perfect title for this passion. Danielle’s passion was another girls pain and that is the heart that Danielle had. She wanted to reach out and help the girls who were living with guilt, regret and pain. Our first, “One girls PASSION……another girls pain”, purity event was a great success and I cannot begin to think of words that can express my hearts emotions as to how I felt after I was finally able to take a request that was made by Danielle in April of 2004 as we were unpacking dishes in our new home. To finally be able to share her passion and her Legacy is the biggest honor that any mother can ever experience.
My daughter leaves behind a “Legacy” worth bragging about and it is an honor each and every time that I am privileged to share her passion for purity and her love for life and her love for others for the purpose to hopefully change a life because of the life that Danielle lived. You see I have learned that it was Danielle’s life here on earth that is worth bragging about but it took her death to this earth and her new life in Heaven to make it complete and to cause each of us to think about the life that we will one day leave behind for others to brag about. This event that I thought would be just a one time event in honor of my cherished daughter has none grown into an amazing annual one day event that my oldest daughter, Dezarei Harrison and I have the honor of sharing the dream that my youngest daughter left behind for us to share.
This event that I once thought would be a one time opportunity to share my daughters Legacy has now grown into much more than just another Purity Event. We have changed our approach and even our title from Purity Event to Danielle’s Legacy event because the word purity can be such a hinderance that may keep many ladies from feeling qualified or even desire to attend. Each of us will leave a Legacy for others to remember about us. Purity just happens to be one of the legacy’s that Danielle left behind for us to not only remember but to live. A true legacy is not what we remember about someone but what we can apply to our life to live out and encourage others to live. Danielle met her True Groom and one day, we will too. How will we be remembered and what will be our Legacy?
Danielle’s Legacy Events are held on the Saturday that falls closest to August 20th. Each year the ladies within our church family come together and help host and facilitate our events. We have been blessed to once again have our event at Liberty High School which is the high school that Danielle attended. We turn the high school cafeteria into a theme of a Wedding Reception as we share hope, new life and love to all you are able to join us.
One Girls Passion just might be another Girls Pain. We encourage you to not only attend but to invite all the ladies in your life, young and a little older to join us this year.
It is my hope that you can join us this year! Please invite your mom, friends, co-workers, neighbors and all ladies in your life.