Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Most Beautiful Thing I Have Ever Read

I mentioned in our Christmas post last night that we lost a dear friend this week, very unexpectedly, and it has really rocked my world. I could barely hold it together in church this morning singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". The line "Mild he lay his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth" brought new meaning as I was grieving. Its one of those things that doesn't make sense. Tod was reaching so many people to Christ. Why would God take him so young. But then one of his friends posted this tonight, and its truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. So I wanted to post it here, partly so you could read it, and partly so I could reread it over and over when I need reminding of God's faithfulness and goodness. Written by Tod's best friend, Brian Summerall.

O Holy Night:
I spent Christmas Eve, not in the way I expected last night. My friend, Tod Bush, passed away a couple of days ago, While his brain showed no activity, his body was kept alive on a respirator for the last two days. So yesterday evening I went up to the hospital for one last earthly goodbye and to try to find some closure.
What I found instead was hope.
You see, Tod was an organ donor, and his body was kept alive so he could serve as a gift to many with no hope. After a tearful “I love you and I’ll see you in heaven,” and a final prayer, I sat with his family in the waiting room as this friend I love became the ultimate gift on Christmas.
In the midst of pain and heartbreak, hope entered in right about 8:00 in the form of a blue cooler that rolled into the room.
It was accompanied by an EMT and two heart surgeons (one in scrubs and one in golf pants and hat) from North Carolina. They had just landed at Addison Airport and arrived by ambulance. One of the surgeons told us Tod’s heart was going to a woman who desperately needed it in North Carolina. While the surgeons were rushed to the operating room with their cooler, we sat with the EMT for two hours and told her about Tod.
Next thing we knew, the EMT got up, the surgeons rushed by, thanked us and told us everything went perfectly, and Tod’s heart rolled out the door in that blue cooler and boarded a private plane to North Carolina.
Jesus gave Tod a new heart when he accepted him at Frontier Ranch 30 years ago. On Christmas Eve, Tod gave that heart to a woman in North Carolina to save her life.
“Love so amazing. Love so divine.”
Within minutes, the next EMT rushed in with the lung team. We told her about Tod and his love of the Dallas Mavericks. We told her about the woman in North Carolina who would get Tod’s heart and would soon be wondering why she has a strange desire to watch Mavericks games.
After about an hour, his lungs rushed out the door to save a man in Florida.
“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
The same lungs that God breathed life into for Tod would now give life to a man in Florida. The lungs that climbed mountains so countless kids could hear about Jesus would now give life at sea level.
“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.”
It went on all night. They took his eyes so a blind man could see.
“Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?”
He gave everything… heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, eyes, skin, bones, tissue. Coolers rolled out, and planes took off one after another filled with gifts of hope.
Tod gave everything so that people who had no hope on Christmas Eve would receive the gift of life on Christmas morning.
What’s truly amazing about all of this and the reason it truly stirs our hearts is that Tod’s story is really God’s story. What Tod did for so many last night, God did for all of us on Christmas.
Like the woman in North Carolina, God’s word says our heart is defective.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” - Jeremiah 17:9
We are in desperate need of a transplant. Without a donor, we have no hope… no life.
On Christmas Eve, God entered the story. But instead of hope in a rolling cooler, we find it in a manger. Hope entered the world in a baby. Jesus. God with us.
A world with no hope on Christmas Eve, was given the gift of life on Christmas day.
“He came that we might have life and life to the full.” - John 10:10.
And just like Tod, God gave everything.
“For God so loved the world, that he GAVE his only son…” John 3:16
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering… and by his wounds, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5
The ultimate gift.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” - John 1:12
Those who received Tod’s gifts last night got a new life. Those who receive God’s gift today, get eternal life.
New heart, new breath, new sight, new life.
So in the midst of heartache and loss last night, I saw God’s story. I saw what God did for me. I saw hope.
I saw Jesus in Tod when he lived, I experienced Jesus in Tod when he died.
“A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born.”

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016 Update

Just pretend that you received a Christmas card with an adorable picture, and on it was the link to this blog post so you can read our update. Cards just didn't happen this year. New Year's cards are maybe a possibility, but doubtful. So here is our update.

Campbell is in 3rd grade, loving school. His teacher is our neighbor down the street, and I love having an insider to keep me posted on him. He's a character. He played basketball, baseball and Upward football this year. He made the All Star baseball team and that helped him get more motivated to work hard I think. Jason coached him in baseball and they both had to learn how to work together in that setting but they were season champs, so it all worked out. He loves to play video games and watch You Tube videos.

Cade is in 7th grade. He's on the FCA leadership team, the Math Counts team, the 7th grade basketball and baseball teams, and our church middle school servant leader team. He is a born leader, but he's a quiet leader, behind the scenes. He loves to play X Box and play with our dog Sadie.

Cooper is in 9th grade, and handling high school quite well. He lives and breaths baseball, and works out after school three days a week with the varsity baseball team. He's getting so tall and strong. He has big dreams and we are excited to watch where his hard work takes him. He serves in children's ministry on Sunday mornings and middle school on Wednesday nights doing tech.

Jason's job has shifted some and he now focuses on our high school ministry at Pinelake. He's loving building relationships with the students and building a new leadership team. He has some exciting things planned for 2017.

I am still the Director of Childcare/MMO at Pinelake and loving it. I'm also still a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope, although in my fourth year I have had to step back some with our boys' busy schedule. But I love that I can do something to help those in poverty and trafficking from my home in the free moments that our family's schedule allows.

Jason and I are going to the Passion conference next week with our Seniors and then leaving from there to go to Pigeon Forge, TN to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. (That's just craziness!) We went there on our honeymoon, and if you had told me back then as a 21 year old newlywed where we would be now, I'm not sure I would have believed it. But I am so thankful and honored to be in this place in our journey. Not to end on a sad note, but we had a friend pass away this week, way too young and very suddenly. It has wrecked me on some levels. It makes me all the more certain that I have to take each day as a gift, ask God to show me opportunities to minister and love people, and love and serve my family daily because we don't know how long our time here will be. I want to not take a day in 2017 for granted. And I want people to remember me for making a difference. Here's to a wonderful new year!