Ansley begins to share her experience walking through her mother passing away…click the link below.
It was nearly 2 months ago that we posted last about how things were going in our world, specifically with the health of Lou Ann, Ansley’s mom. Read about it in Ansley’s last blog entry. We want to tell you more about our journey and the uncharted waters that we are navigating currently. We will do so via a few blog posts.
First, we cannot thank you enough for all the prayers, cards, flowers, meals and gift cards that a lot of you have helped provide for our family. Those things have helped us not only to feel loved, but it has taken pressure off of the day to day routine and allowed us to fully be present to mourn and celebrate.
While we are so saddened that Lou Ann is not with us here, we know that she is now healed and will forever be because of the hope she had in Jesus. It is this very hope that has allowed our family to be able to mourn with joy and to celebrate the life she lived here and the lives that she was able to touch/influence because of her sweet spirit and her servant heart. But it is still one of the hardest things that I’ve had to come to grips with. The timing. The process. The ups and downs. It just doesn’t seem real. Lou Ann is the first of one of our parents to pass away. But again, through the pain, there is such hope and joy knowing that she is at peace, and in fact, celebrating her life to the fullest right now.
That Thursday (Halloween), was special. The day before, I (Brandon) just finished a lunch appointment with a prospective ministry partner when I called Ans to tell her about it. She asked me immediately if I could come home to be with the kids so she could go to the hospital to be with her mom and Charlie. She had gotten a call that her mom didn’t have the physical strength to fight against the cancer anymore. Before we went to bed that night we decided that we would take the kids to be at the hospital as long as we had to the next day. So we packed snacks, puzzles, toys, an ipad and a portable dvd player. We didn’t know what that day was going to hold, but we wanted to be together. There was a great waiting area that the kids and I along with other family members were able to hang around in and not disturb anyone or be disturbed. We got downtown at 8:30 that morning. We really wanted MG and Mack to get to see Lou Ann once more. We didn’t know exactly how or when, but we knew, especially for MG, that some closure was going to be needed.
There just didn’t seem to be a good time to take them into her room throughout the day, so finally a few minutes before 7pm we decided we should take them back. It was perfect timing. MG was encouraging and sweet, complimenting Lou Ann on how she looked and asking her how she was resting. We asked if she wanted to sing her a song and MG said, “sure!” She started singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” (everyone in the room began crying), but in typical MG form, she made up everything past the first line. I don’t remember what she said….but it was perfect. I think we will always cherish those few minutes together, and we will surely have a great memory to share as time goes on. Myra Grace then kissed M’ma’s hand and told her “I hope you feel better. I hope you sleep good.”
Shortly after leaving the room Lou Ann took her last breath. As I look back, I’m so thankful to have been with our family during that time. I’ve been so encouraged watching Ansley walk through this. I’ve been blown away at how strong she has been. It’s not that she hasn’t cried or been sad or wondered what she will do without her mom being here…it’s just that in the midst of this, she’s held on dearly to the grace and comfort of our Lord Jesus. We know that there is a long journey ahead, but I’m reminded that we have a great God who is with us and will never forsake us. He loves us and he loves you. I am more hopeful than ever in our Savior Jesus, because without Him, I’m sure we’d be sinking.
Metastasis. Pulmonary embolism. Pleural effusion. I was an English major in college so needless to say I had no reason to know these medical terms until today. My momma has been in the hospital since Tuesday. She went in for unidentifiable pain she’s had for almost a month. After a series of every test known to man, we will hopefully get answers tomorrow after her lung doctor and cancer doctor consult one another. Even though they’re not totally sure everything that’s causing the pain they have decided to begin treatment on her cancer, which we learned a week ago has become active again after almost six months of being in remission.
Needless to say, I am overwhelmed, flustered and numb. The best way to describe it is I feel pressed but not crushed (2 Cor. 4:8). The burden is pressing on my heart, my mind constantly. I am confident in who God is, not in the circumstances or my knowledge of what’s going on. I will not lose heart (2 Cor. 4:16-18) because God knows all and He has my momma in the palm of His very capable hand. This does not mean I won’t have times of questioning, I won’t have times of being angry, sad, anxious. So, what does this mean to me? I know that He is able to heal her, completely, to erase everything away and make her physically well again. I will pray that it’s His will to do so. But, whatever the outcome: more chemo, more abnormalities, more unknown: I will CHOOSE to trust Him, even when it’s hard. I will do this, not because it’s easy or because it’s the “right” thing to do: I will do this because I will “remember the deeds of long ago” (Psalm 77:1) and choose to trust He still is doing good deeds and will continue to do them. He doesn’t change, even as my circumstances do.
So, do I pray that my momma would be healed? Yes! I pray that would be God’s will. I thank God for how awesome He is. Reminding myself of who He is allows me to gain a perspective that I don’t have if I just focus on myself, my mom, the situation. I then lose sight and begin to spiral into “what ifs” and I begin to try and take over control. I pray that my momma would know how deep His love is for her in the very depths of her soul. I devotedly pray (Colossians 4:2), that she would experience peace every moment, an indescribable peace (Philippians 4:7)…right now as she sleeps nine miles away from me, hooked up to oxygen and resting deeply because of pain medication. I pray that my family (myself included) would not become “anxious about ANYTHING but in EVERYTHING present [our] requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
I pray for myself, that I would lean IN to this experience. Leaning in for me means to enter into this with my mom and my stepdad as he cares for her. Leaning in for me means to pray, to carry this burden to the throne room of God on their behalf. Leaning in means involving my children in the reality (age appropriate of course) of what their M’ma is going through. A great opportunity to remind them and myself that this world is not our home (Hebrews 11:13). Leaning in means allowing friends and family (near and far) to help my family bear this burden: taking up people’s offers to watch my kids so I can be present with my mom, bringing food- doing things for us. After all, this is what the body and community is for. We were created to live life with others.
I am a “doer” and if I’m being totally honest and vulnerable, I operate in my natural self as someone who wants to look good to others and to have it all together. If I do not allow others to be involved I come across as someone who is not in “need.” And boy am I ever in need. Not just now because a loved one is going through something really difficult- but EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I will choose to not be prideful. I will choose to not place barriers around my self and the situation. I will choose to let people in. Why? Because there’s much more at stake than whether or not I keep it all together. A representation of the gospel is at stake. We were created to be IN community, do life with people, just like God the Father exists in community with the Son and the Holy Spirit. I pray I will portray a true picture of why Jesus even came. He didn’t come because I’m almost perfect, almost good enough, almost have it all together and only 2% of me needed restoration. He came to bridge the gap between me and His Father (John 14:6): something I cannot do- through any means (Romans 3:23). Thankfully the story/situation never ends with depressing news. My story and my mom’s story will hopefully reflect the one Story that has the power to change lives, mine included.
So, I’m leaning in. Sure, its messy. Sure, its hard. But it’s also beautiful, it’s also lovely. Thank you for leaning in with me.
*Update: since writing this we have found out the pain was most likely caused by the fluid around her lungs. She will be having surgery Monday to drain the fluid and seal the area in order to prevent future fluid from gathering. When she’s recovered from that she will begin chemotherapy to arrest the active cancer cells. Thanks again for leaning in with our family.
Myra Grace spontaneously praying for M’ma
Ballet performance for Granddaddy and M’ma
After M’ma was wheeled out for a test, they took over the space
Mackey enjoying a popsicle from a sweet nurse
While campus has been rolling quickly along we have had a lot of fun as a family this month. We began the month with a trip to see my dad and Jewel at Topsail Beach, NC.
We celebrated Myra Grace’s birthday there.
Mackey LOVED the cake!
The next weekend we had Myra Grace’s 3rd birthday party. It was a Wizard of Oz theme and she was in heaven.
Brandon’s aunt and cousin made the beautiful cake!
We tried to get a great family picture of the four of us in the Wizard Photo Booth but Mackey didn’t really want to cooperate.
One of our favorite memories from this month was a spur of the moment trip to Sullivan’s Island after church one Sunday. We figured it might be the last time of 2012 we could get in the water, so we went for it.
Myra Grace is now potty trained!
During the three days we were housebound we got kind of stir crazy and daddy blew up the air mattress…this led to learning how to wrestle…it was a crazy few days.
The month ended with our Fall Retreat. To be continued in the next post…
Christian organizations at Vanderbilt University are under attack – Campus Crusade for Christ (cru) and other Christian groups are standing their ground. What the final decision is by the university will affect not only their college but could begin a trickle affect that will affect colleges across America.
Brandon will be spending 17 days in NYC running two weeks of Spring Break trips. There will be over 130 staff and students that he is in charge of. Please pray for all the details to work out with travel, hotel accommodations and ministry sites. Check out our spring break website and thanks to Anna, Brandon’s sister for taking a week off of work to watch the kids so I can join Brandon for the first 7 days in NYC.
We brought in Marian Jordan, author, speaker and founder of Redeemed Girls Ministry as an outreach at College of Charleston.
Marian Jordan tells her story of looking for love among men and how that changed when she came to Christ.
Our Cru crew of girls gathered early to pray, set up food, and run the event.
I had the privilege of emceeing the event.
We had about 100 girls show up to the event, which we felt like was a good turnout. After Marian shared her story she shared the gospel and we had 41 girls who either committed or recommitted their lives to Christ! WOW! Our staff women and student leaders are in the process of doing followup appointments with the girls who filled out surveys. We have also started a book club based off of one of her books: Sex and the City Uncovered.
Thank you for praying for our ministry. Would you pray for these girls and their walks with the Lord to continue to grow, especially our new sisters in Christ.
Both of us, thanks to Brandon’s parents keeping the kids, were able to go to the junior/senior weekend. Cru sponsors this weekend to allow upperclassmen a chance to get away and learn about how to make wise decisions in determining God’s will for their life. We joined 150 students for the weekend and both of us were able to lead a process group.
Brandon led worship for the weekend.
We hosted a breakfast the last morning of the conference to tell people about the opportunities to serve in NYC and the need for more laborers there. We had 17 people attend! Even though we were there aiding the students along in this process, it reaffirmed for us why we do what we do. Thank you for your partnership with us both financially and prayerfully.
25 students came with us to a conference where we focused on encountering God.
One of the highlights of this conference is a day of outreach where our students take boxes filled with food into the communities surrounding Greensboro and meet real physical needs as well as getting to meet spiritual needs as well by sharing their faith.
These were some of the things we heard from our students:
“I want to be able to say to the Lord ‘there’s nothing left…I have no more talent.'”
“Once I said ‘God can use me’ I realized that He really would even though I felt inadequate.”
“I’ve been trained to share my faith before, but today I did it for the first time…I got to share with a lady today, she thought she was a believer, but after talking she realized she had never made a decision to follow Christ. It’s addicting. I just want to keep sharing.”
Myra Grace’s highlight of the week was playing with her friend Jacob and going to childcare classes.
A couple of weeks ago during one of our leadership meetings we reflected on how we were doing as a ministry in our core areas: prayer, outreach, discipleship and sending. Now last semester you could find students at C of C praying at least every Monday night and usually a couple of more times too. However as we evaluated this area we realized we were hardly meeting at all to pray together for our campus and for those who don’t know Christ. It was a tough conversation topic because we all realized that we let the most important area of ministry become week. But it didn’t end there, in fact in stead of being down about it, the students on their own initiative decided that something had to be done immediately. That afternoon, some of the students began to post on facebook asking others when they could meet to pray. That little spark has now turned into what seems like a full out wild fire where students are meeting every day of the week to pray for God to move, sometimes multiple times a day!
We are so proud of our leaders for owning praying for C of C. Please join us in praying for God to move in a mighty way. And if you’d like to have some resources for prayer or have some prayer requests to share just let us know!