|Birth: ||Sep. 25, 2002|
|Death: ||May 2, 2006|
"Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" was sung by three year-old Sami while swinging the morning of May 2, 2006. Unfortunately, it was the last time. She loved swinging, Dora the Explorer, her dog Yeller, wearing her clothes backwards and picking up rocks of all shapes and sizes. She would even save gravel from the church parking lot and keep it in her purse. Her favorite saying was from the McDonald's commercial – "I'm lovin' it!" Her favorite color was pink and "Jesus Loves Me" was her favorite song.
Kim Crittenden, a friend of the family from Bowen Elementary School where Jacob and Becca go to class, asked Debi if they could pray together. Debi and Crittenden began a prayer group and invited other moms to pray for the children and teachers, family needs, whatever they wanted to share. "Sami wouldn't let us forget to pray before eating or going to bed," Debi said. "She even wanted to pray at naptime. A prayer group seemed like a wonderful way to comfort our grieving community." Eight came to the first prayer meeting. As Debi prayed to know how to grow the group, she came up with the name Sam's Rock. It fit in so many ways. Not only did Sami love rocks, but the Bible describes God as a rock and firm foundation. Debi ordered 1,500 bright pink and white T-shirts with Sam's Rock in big black letters across the front. She's given them away to people from Maine to California, Michigan to Georgia, France and England. A typed note goes out with each shirt. "When you wear Sam's Rock, don't remember her death and the sorrow, remember that because of her Rock, our Rock, she is alive—she won. She got to go first, and she patiently waits for you to come play with her in heaven. For now you are called to live abundantly, love and forgive each other, always remembering Jesus loves you." Sam's Rock prayer group has grown to as many as 40 on Monday mornings to pray. They pray for children and teachers and the right person to fill a vacancy at the school. On Sept. 11, they prayed for the nation and recently, the group prayed for the Somali mother whose four children were murdered by her estranged husband.
Debi and her Bible study group wore Sam's Rock T-shirts to work in the clothes closet at The Healing Place, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in downtown Louisville. As they waited to begin the outreach, dozens of women stopped to ask what Sam's Rock meant. Conversation quickly became up close and personal. As Debi told her story, the women were touched by hearing of God's faithfulness to help her overcome grief in such a way that encourages others. "God is using this to connect people," Debi said. "Sam's Rock is becoming bigger than a prayer group in a public school. It's about hope and how in the face of the unthinkable, God has given peace, a lesson in God's unfailing promise to never leave us." Now two other schools are interested in starting Sam's Rock prayer groups. Kurt Sauder, head of Southeast's Men's Groups, said the McDonalds have used their grief as a springboard to reach out to others. "They've had great heartache and pain, but they also see that this tragedy can be used for the glory of God," he said. "They're so aware that this world is not our home. It's temporary, and they're fixed on eternity."
Pictures of Sami are everywhere in the McDonald's home, and they often talk of something she said or did that made them laugh. In the afternoon, when Jacob and Becca get home from school, Debi asks each one what they did in school that day. Then together, they talk about what Sami may be doing in heaven. Some days they imagine that she's swinging with her great-grandmas. Other days it's ballet or singing—all the things Sami loved to do. "When I think of Sami in heaven, I can almost hear her say, ‘Mom, I'm lovin' it,'" Debi said.
She was preceded in death by grandfathers, David McDonald and Wes Knight; great-grandmothers, Ruth McDonald Pevler, Molly Ann Jacobs and Minnie Combs; and a great-grandfather, Corbett Combs. She is survived by her beloved parents, Geoff and Debi; brother, Jacob; sister, Becca; grandmothers, Priscilla Young, Monica Knight and Lyn McDonald; grandfather, Joseph Burdette; five aunts and five uncles; and five cousins.
She was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery. The family asks that donations in Sami's memory be made to The Making Room For More fund at Southeast Christian Church. The stone portion of her monument was designed by Terry Joy of Joy Monument in Louisville, Kentucky. Christ and Sami are bronze. Tom White of Bethel, Maine was the sculptor.
Cave Hill Cemetery
Plot: SECTION 15, Lot 130, Part A, Range , Grave 3-A
Maintained by: Glendora
Originally Created by: Roger Gleitz
Record added: Nov 05, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 16477414