Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Worship

Dear Friends,

I know this is old news by this point for most of you on Facebook.  As much as I would have loved to make an official announcement before it went viral, I recognize that particular wish is a tall order in the era of social media.  I especially apologize to those of you who I would have liked to call in person before you heard through the grapevine.

This morning at 8 AM was a bright, sunny, Sunday morning in Dallas Texas.  It promises to be one of the hottest days of the year so far, but behind the windows of UT Southwestern is was a cool 70 degrees.  The view of the Dallas skyline was especially beautiful in the morning light, with just a few fluffy white clouds in the sky.  All over the city and country people were getting up to attend services where they would worship God - by singing hymns and praise songs, by listening and learning more about God, and by giving their time, talent, and money in service to God.

For all those reasons, this morning at 8 AM was a fitting time (if there ever is such a thing) for my wife to breathe her final breath on this Earth.  She traded singing hymns with a praise band for a choir of angels.  She traded hearing about God from a preacher for looking upon the face of her savior.  Instead of giving her time, talent, and money, she gave her life for the glory of God.  And she was there in time for the for the early worship service in heaven (in stark contrast to our usual punctuality).

We Christians use a lot of platitudes to describe death; phrases that, despite their underlying truth, become saccharine and trite in how they seek to make death's reality and apparent finality more palatable.  "She went home"; "she went to be with Jesus"; "She passed away"; I've even heard "graduation day" used to describe this.  I was there in the room, so let me be perfectly clear: she died.

Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?     -1 Corinthians 15:55

The use of this passage at funerals has always struck me as slightly misguided.  Where is death's sting?  It's right. here.  I'm feeling it's sting as I try to make arrangements, answer a hundred "how are you doings?", and most of all when I sit down with my two-year-old and try to explain how it is that mommy can love him very very much but that she won't be here with us any more. How hard she fought to stay with us.  How even though she was very sick, now she is all better.  How she is in heaven with Jesus.

But the promise of the passage is not diminished just because it points to a future state.  And the truth that Ashleigh is in heaven with Jesus is more deeply true and comforting than just being something you tell a two-year-old.  And the present sting of death is actually a temporary inconvenience.  You may know the end of 2 Corinthians 4 from the T-shirt fundraiser:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

But what you may not know is what immediately follows it in chapter 5:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling... So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

And that is Ashleigh.  Whether here or in death, her aim was to please God and point people to Him.  Her "earthly tent" - her body - was destroyed by cancer.  But she is celebrating now in an eternal building built by God.  She is enjoying her eternal weight of glory.

There are many logistics in the coming days.  Let me share some with you.  We will have a visitation at Turrentine Jackson Morrow funeral home in Allen TX on Thursday night.  We will have a funeral Friday morning at First Baptist Church Allen.  We will have a graveside service immediately following...somewhere.  I will post more details as they are available, but I wanted to get the timeline nailed down so you could "save the date" so to speak.

In lieu of flowers, you can donate to Ashleigh's FirstGiving page to help meet her goal to raise money for IBC research.  Or if you'd rather, you can donate to Noah and David's scholarship fund by donating to the brashleighboys@gmail.com PayPal account as a friend (if you also have a PayPal account), or you can donate directly here if you don't have a PayPal account.

The gala will go forward on August 13 as a tribute to Ashleigh in her memory, so we can meet her goal of raising $100,000 to research her disease.  More details to come.

Finally, the blog will continue for the foreseeable future as a way to communicate what's going on with me, the boys, the gala, funeral services, obituaries, etc.  There are a few posts from Ashleigh still in the 'draft' folder that I'll get around to editing and posting at some point.  There are a few more posts that I'd like to write.  At some point we will wrap up the blog (since it's Ashleigh's blog), but in the meantime you should continue to check here for updates.

66 comments:

  1. I am so very sorry to hear this news. I have prayed for Ashleigh, you and your sweet little boys throughout this journey and will continue to do so. She has been one of the most impressive Christian role models I've ever witnessed as she fought her cancer battle! I know you are so proud of your beautiful wife! God bless you all!

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  2. Brad: my heart is with you and the boys. Though we have crossed paths just once "in real life" - your family's transparency and hope in the face of death will stay with me forever.

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  3. I am so sorry to hear of Ashleigh's passing, but I am certain she is celebrating with our Heavenly Father. I took care of Ashleigh one night in labor and delivery right after she was diagnosed with IBC. Your family has been in my prayers ever since that night, and you will continue to be in my prayers as you grieve. God Bless You!

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  4. There is real heaven. Ashleigh is there. And we WILL see her again. May she be dancing at this moment at her gala that is more glorious than we can ever have for her. Praying for every family member, friend, and loved one.

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  5. Dear Brad,
    There are no words to adequately describe the heartache you are feeling right now. Please know that I have prayed for Ashleigh, you and the boys daily over the past year. I will continue to pray for y'all during this difficult time.
    Love,
    Joanie Campbell

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  6. Brad, you and the boys are in my thoughts and prayers. The journey that you have traveled and shared with so many has been a real gift in living a life of faith. Your openness and honesty has been a source of great encouragement to many. May your many precious memories bring a peace and comfort during the days ahead.

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  7. I am so sorry to hear of Ashleigh's passing. You and the boys are in my prayers!

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  8. Brad, you probably don't remember me, but I know you from your childhood in Chimney Springs. I have been following Ashleigh's journey ever since I saw a post from your dad on Facebook. I am so sorry to hear this news. You and the boys will continue in my prayers.

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  9. Dear Brad - My heart goes out to you and your family at this very difficult time. Nothing can ever replace the mother of your children here on earth, and I wish you all the ability to find joy and happiness again. Your sharing and your words have inspired so many, including those of different faiths.

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  10. Though we've never met, I've followed Ashleigh's blog and been praying for your family. I am heartbroken for you and your family tonight. Praying that God wraps his comforting arms around you and your boys, especially through this coming week. She left such an amazing legacy of faith and obedience. Thank you for helping her witness to others, including myself, through this blog...

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  11. Someone I Love Died by Christine Harder Tangvald. It is for ages 3 and up. Although I would say more around 1st grade. I did not read it to my son but used it as a guide to talk to him when he was 2 or 3 about the loss of a loved one. Jeanne Shockey at First Baptist Carrollton lent me a copy many years ago. She may still have a copy or it is available off on Amazon. My prayers are with you and the boys.

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  12. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
    Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
    In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

    Praying and thinking of you all in this difficult time.

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  13. Prayers and thoughts going out for you and the boys

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  14. Prayers and thoughts going out for you and the boys

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  15. Prayers and thoughts going out for you and the boys

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  16. Heartbroken for your loss tonight, and will be in continued prayer for your family as you go forward. Ashleigh's pain is over now, and I know that she is made new and rejoicing with her savior right now...But that won't stop the family and friends that she left behind from suffering her loss. Hoping God brings peace and comfort during this time. Ashleigh touched so many - including myself - with her bravery and unwavering faith in the face of her own mortality, and I will always be thankful to her for that. God bless you.

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  17. I haven't seen this blog until today... But I am so very sorry you and your precious boys (and all family and friends) now must mourn the death of your wife. I cannot imagine the loss you must be feeling.

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  18. Sorry to hear the news Brad. May God give you and the boys the strength through these times and peace. She has been a positive influence on many through her blog.

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  19. Praying for your whole family. May God wrap his arms around you and those boys. I have followed from the beginning and I am heartbroken. Cancer did not win...Ashleigh did. Praying

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  20. Our hearts are very saddened from reading the latest post. Ashleigh has touched me and my wife with her faith in God in facing her challenges each day. We never met her in person, but we knew she was special. May God Bless Ashleigh knowing she is an angel in Heaven and continued prayers for all of whom she had touched spiritually. I was close to calling Ashleigh the last few days and now I feel so sad I never made that call. Maybe she will hear my prayers knowing she did affect all of us with her life. She should never be forgotten but become an inspiration to all who need to test their faith in God!

    Signed,
    Michael and Amanda Faulkenberry

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  21. Praying for peace during this difficult time. I have followed the blog since a friend of mine posted about it. I do not know you, but my heart breaks for you and your boys. Ashleigh is healed, even though it is not the early healing I'm sure you wanted. Her story touched my life and I'm sure many others. God will use her life to bring others to him.

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  22. Although you don't know me, and I only discovered your blog a few weeks ago, I am absolutely heartbroken for you. Your goodness leaps out of the words from your blog, and is apparent to even the most distant stranger just passing by after a Google search for 'breast cancer blogs.' I am so, so sorry for you, Brad, but thankful that Ashleigh's suffering is done. Thank you so much for sharing this journey, even with complete strangers. I will continue to pray for your family.

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  23. As I heard similarly spoken in reference to another recent faithful friend's passing, Ashleigh's mission here on Earth must have been completed, and our Father called her home. Like everything else in life, she got her work done early, and our Lord must have just wanted closer fellowship with her sooner. Brad and family, may the grace of our Lord be with you. God is good and I can't wait for the amazing thing He has in store for you and the kids, Brad.

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  25. Ashleigh's candor and faith in the face of great pain and struggle have been inspiring. A complete stranger sending thoughts and prayers to all who loved and knew Ashleigh.

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  26. When I got the news about Ashleigh's death late Sunday morning, church had just finished and the big pipe organ was playing the postlude, a glorious arrangement of the Doxology, and I was thinking of what she was instantly transported to. And not to minimize your loss - you and your children are in my prayers.

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  27. I miss Ashleigh, and I don't even know her in real life. She has impacted so many people in this world. I can't even imagine how your family is feeling. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss.

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  28. Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time. Prayers for strength in the coming days and weeks. We know Ashleigh is free from pain and in a wonderful place. So sorry for you loss.

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  29. I'm so sorry to read this update today (with tears rolling down my face at work), but glad and comforted that she is no longer in pain, and that y'all have such strong faith that she is in Heaven. If I read this blog correctly, she was still with you to celebrate David's birthday? That's a miracle in itself that she blessed your family with 2 beautiful little boys and got to see him grow through his first year. I will continue to think of you all often, and make a donation in her memory.
    Lisa

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  30. There are no words to help, so I will pray God holds you close in His loving hands during this shattering time of grief. <3

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  31. Ashleigh shared her story with such freedom and with such honesty. Her words reflect the message of Christ's love and of a servant's faith. She was and is a testament. May God be with you and your family in this time.

    Kimberly Rayborn

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  32. I think it would be a good idea to still have the party she wanted to celebrate her life and all the good things she brought to it. We can't control what we lose in this life, but we can control the life we give to our lives.

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  33. I don't know your family personally but I've been following the blog from the beginning. I've been praying for Ashleigh fervently and checking the blog often. As I read your post this morning, "Come As You Are" by David Crowder was playing in the background on my computer. The words "Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can't heal" strike me every time I hear them, but especially now. Knowing that Ashleigh is healed and with Jesus is the only consolation at this time. Thank you for being a shining example of faith even in the worst of times. I will continue to pray for your family as you grieve.

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  34. Prayers and hugs from here! Your family has inspired so many.

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  35. Praying for your family. Ashleigh is such an inspiration.

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  36. Lifting you and the boys and families up in prayer today and everyday! Ashleigh's story has made such an impact on my life and I can only hope to be half the woman she was. I've had such a heavy heart since reading your post last night and I can only imagine the grief you are feeling. Take care and know that so many people are praying for you all!

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  37. I was introduced to Ashleigh's blog by my son, a fellow Yellow Jacket. Over the past year, I have developed a love for her and your family. Her grace, strength, and faith have had a profound affect on me, causing me to re-examine my life. Her legacy lives on in you and your two boys. I will continue to pray for you, Noah, and David.

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  38. Brad, my heart goes out to you, the boys, and both families. Ashleigh was such a jewel and she will never be forgotten. I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to meet her at Dr Pepper. She had an amazing smile that would light up every room. Thanks so much for the updates and I pray that God will continue to pour out his blessings over your life and that he will continue to give you the grace, strength, and peace you need as you go through this season.

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  39. A Friend in MariettaJuly 20, 2015 at 4:24 PM

    My heart aches for all of you. I have been praying since the beginning but reading the blog in only the last few months. What a gift you were to each other! Ashleigh lived a short life, but she was blessed with a loving soulmate and two beautiful boys who will grow up in a home filled with love and faith. She herself through all of this was able to bring many, many people to love and trust Jesus, to have a closer relationship with Our Lord. What a truly amazing thing to have accomplished! I will continue to keep you and the boys in my prayers. Be kind to yourself...allow yourself to grieve. God Bless!

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  40. I stumbled across your blog yesterday evening (a facebook friend had posted about your family). I've read bits and pieces of this blog since then and have been moved tremendously. The video of Ashleigh speaking at the Yarn (I believe it was called) especially touched by heart, partly as a fellow MIT alum but most of all because of her great witness of God's sovereignty over all and a reminder to consider our own mortality. Thank you so much to both you and Ashleigh for opening up your hearts and your lives in such a public forum so that even those of you who have never met you might be encouraged by your perseverance in faith, your clear love for each other and the Lord, and God's faithfulness to you even through a dark time. While we know that she is now directly in the Lord's presence, I'm sorry for how difficult of a time this must be for you and your family. I will be praying for your sweet family.

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  41. Im so sorry for your loss. I am praying for your family.
    Jenny

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  42. No doubt this dear and precious young lady was warmly welcomed into God's glory. All of us who have had the pleasure of keeping up with her blog have been blessed and inspired beyond measure. ..."Well done, my good and faithful servant." Mathew 25:21.

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  43. Praying for you and your family, during this difficult time. My Jesus be your greatest comforter.

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