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Friday, December 4, 2009

SHE HAD A HOLE IN HER THROAT BUT NOT IN HER HEART

Two days ago I received the news that my dear friend Tara Stover had gone home to be with our Savior. Tara often referred to herself as "Trach girl." Her bought with spinal cancer at a very young age and other complications led to her having a permanent tracheotomy and stunted growth. She was required to carry an oxygen bag with her wherever she went. But she didn't stay at home.

I met Tara when she volunteered her time to work with Young Life in Dyersburg while I was on staff. I had no idea how strong she was. Her body was fragile but her heart was resilient. I have never been more honored than when I discovered she had requested that I speak at her funeral. I wanted to share with all of you who are following me how much Tara meant to me by sharing her eulogy. Tara is mentioned in my first book, Chainsaw Preacher, on page 128.


I am honored to have been asked by Tara to speak today. More honored than if this were the funeral of Mother Teresa, to me Tara was a true saint.

I underestimated Tara the first time I met her. We all underestimated Tara. Tara was like a little brave King David with a slingshot: size didn’t matter. If you knew Tara you knew she was feisty, determined, and set apart by God for something special. Her Goliath was never her illness, it was pity itself, she hated pity, and she slew it with her inner strength.

We are here today because this little girl with a huge heart impacted our lives, this tiny, beautiful girl with a hole in her throat, impacted hundreds of people. There are exceptions to every rule, Tara taught us that. The rules say a girl with a trach doesn’t love like this. Look around this room: Tara broke the rules.

Today we celebrate her life. Tara always planned on living. She went to college, got her master’s degree, and even a full time job. She even got her own place. I remember four years ago she wanted to have a pool party, the girl who couldn’t swim wanted to have a pool party. It was a great party even though almost nobody swam. Tara just wanted to be normal, but she wasn’t normal. She was better than normal. Better than most of us.

The girl who could have easily lived her life like a charity case did exactly the opposite, she volunteered to work at charities. She used what little strength she had to help those around her. She volunteered her time to make videos and to take pictures, and she was good at it. She enjoyed seeing people happy, and that was the mark of God in her life. Tara walked in faith, living life, never grieving her disability, she just wanted to live, and she would want us to live too.

Thoreau said he did not want to come to the end of his life and discover he had not lived. Tara lived, and she will continue to live through us.

Because of Tara, we have no excuse for not loving others. If a four foot eight girl who weighed eighty pounds and drug around an oxygen tank can make this big of difference, what can we, abled-body people, do.

Jesus said come to me and I will give you life. Tara got her wish Wednesday morning when she floated into the arms of Jesus: she got life. She is still living life, still making plans, and I can see her up there, smiling shaking her little finger saying, " if I can do it you can do it."

If all of us here did a tenth of what she did for others the world would be a hundred times better. She changed my life. I am fairly sure she changed yours. The only question is whose life are we going to change. Laugh, love, and live in honor and memory of Tara Stover. Big things come in small packages. Amen

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