Although she is not very big in stature, after one conversation with her, you find she takes up an entire room with just her smile. She can usually be found with a microphone in her hand and occasionally a guitar. She is only nineteen years old but experience has made her wise beyond her years. Over the past few years I’ve gotten to know Sheree and have been made better through our friendship.

Every time I see Sheree she has a smile on her face. Most people who know her would say the same thing, but little did we know there has been a lot of pain, both physical and emotional, behind that smile. Sheree was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a condition that make her bones very fragile. Although able to walk, she uses a walker for assistance and occasionally a wheel chair. None of this has held Sheree back from living a full life. As a young girl she made the decision to follow Christ. She knew about God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost, but one evening at home Sheree had gotten in trouble and her father told her she needed to call on Jesus when they went to church. She was calling on Jesus because she had been instructed to but at that week night service, Jesus answered. Unbeknownst to Sheree, this decision saved her in more ways than one.

Middle school is rough for everyone and this was no different for Sheree. She would spend many days at home due to her medical condition, but when she returned to school, a certain group of girls would make her wish she had just stayed home. How she walked, how she looked, what she wore; all of it was fair game. The once bubbly, happy girl was falling into a depression that led her to believe death was the only way out. To be twelve years old and think life not worth living, that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, just pain and after that, more pain. In these dark moments, Sheree learned that death would not be the way out, but God and the life He brings through His Son Jesus was the only way she was going to be able to live.

Having grown up in church all of her life, the sanctuary was a safe haven. No matter how much physical pain she may have been in or what had happened at school, she could be herself at church. She could sing the pain away, pray the hurt away, praise the depression away. It may have gotten worse before it got better, but Sheree held on to the belief that better was coming. Friends came. Peace came. Joy came. Freedom came. Every day may not have been sunshine and roses, but it was bearable. Through all the procedures, doctor appointments, whispers, looks and stares, missed events, Sheree knew God was carrying her through all of it.

So that smile we see, the laugh we hear, the song she sings, the chords she plays, is not the product of a girl having grown up in church but it is a reminder of how real God is. Without Jesus there would be no Sheree, certainly not the one we know today, and she lives her life forever grateful.

April 2017

Sheree is currently a sophomore majoring in Computer Information Systems at Emmanuel College. And a random fact about her: She dislikes the summer. She like the breaks, but not the heat.