Reflecting on 2013

Speechless.  As I reflect over this last year, I can’t think of a time in my life that I’ve been at such a loss for words.  This year began with devastating news.  My precious 33 year old brother-in-law (my baby sister’s hubby) was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.  Despite many amazing blessings in 2013 for my little family of five – a beautiful new house, a sweet little town, fabulous neighbors, schools that have a like-minded philosophy, three beautiful babies that keep laughter a constant in our home – my heart is distracted by Mark’s fight against cancer and the long-suffering road they have endured for a year now, with the end nowhere in sight.

Sojourn Community Church, Louisville 2

My family of five traveled fourteen long hours in a small sedan to Louisville, Kentucky last week to share Christmas with their family.  After watching from a distance, a year of surgeries, chemo, extreme highs and painful lows, I was given fresh perspective.  When we arrived at Sojourn Community Church for the Christmas Eve candlelight service, I ran around the building to take some exterior shots of the beautiful, former Roman Catholic church.  Built in 1884, St. Vincent de Paul church was, at one time, a vibrant catholic cathedral.  “The ceiling was crumbling, the plaster on the walls was crumbling. There was hardly any light coming through from the dirt and buildup over the years. So it was very much a beautiful space but it looked like a tired space,” said Sojourn’s Connect Director Jonah Sage.  Combining the old with the new this church is now an amazing blend of character and purpose.

Sojourn Community Church, Louisville

After taking a few pictures, I ran to catch up with my family already in the building.  As I looked up, I saw in the distance my brother-in-law standing at the door.  He and Anna regularly worship at a tiny like-minded church that didn’t host a Christmas Eve service this year.  Mark was new to this church, but as he held the door open for his family to enter the building, others streamed in and he counted it his honor to serve.  No one passing by knew that that he had made breakfast for his family, my parents, and my family that morning, that two days before he had been given chemo intravenously, or that words were a challenge for him because the tumors were fighting to control his sensory processing.  They saw a man that smiles from his core.  A man that genuinely loves serving others.

Sojourn Community Church, Louisville 3

Mark is speechless a lot these days, but his heart speaks volumes.  1 Thessalonians 4:11, ‘Make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands.’   This Christmas I saw a great example of a man living quietly and peacefully, minding his own affairs, and working with his hands – the perfect illustration of simplicity – my focus for 2014.  (I’ll elaborate more soon).

1 Thessalonians 4, Live Simple @ItsOverflowing

Free 8 x 10 Print – 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (here)

How was your Christmas!?!  I hope it was filled with special moments with your family, too.  Read more about Anna and Mark’s story here.

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  1. Thank you so much sweet friends! Your prayers have been such a blessing for our family!!! XO, Aimee

  2. My heart cries with yours Aimee. I’m so glad that you were able to spend Christmas with Mark and the family. Those moments will be treasured forever. Trusting with you for God’s healing. May His grace sustain you today and each tomorrow. [hugs] ~Diane

  3. I’m so sorry and think of you all so often, even though I’m a stranger to you all please know there are lots of people praying for you all.

  4. Such a beautiful yet sad story. I’m sorry for the struggle and hope this year brings happiness for all.


  5. Michelle says:

    Aimee thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

  6. Diana says:

    Aimee I’m so happy that you gave us an update on Mark. Throughout the year I have wondered how he was doing and I’m sorry to hear things have not turned around. Faith has great power to heal in numerous ways. I hope 2014 brings great joy and peace to everyone.

  7. Nancy says:

    my prayers are with you.

  8. Missie C says:

    Aimee, It is such a privilege to follow their story, thank you for sharing an update. I am so inspired by Mark and Anna’s remarkable, unshakable faith. Please know that I have prayed too, for all of you.

  9. Sandy says:

    I have read the links to your sister and BIL page. My heart breaks for this young couple as I pray for Mark’s healing. He is my son’s age, and I cannot imagine going through something this difficult. I praise God that he is a God of hope, healing and redemption!

  10. So sorry to hear of this struggle for your brother-in-law and your entire family. You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

  11. Yvonne @ StoneGable says:

    Oh Aimee, As I read this beautiful and bittersweet post, tears began to flow. I prayed for you brother-in-law and his family and your’s too! What a wonderful reminder to live and serve others and be faithful to God no matter where you are in life! Thank you!

  12. Aimee, would you consider posting this to a (very) small link-up party I am now running? It’s theme is “In 2013, I Learned …” I was actually coming over here to invite you and then saw that the post was already written. 🙂 If not, of course, I understand, but I did want to invite you!

    Happy New Year to your family!


  13. wow, aimee…. thinking of him and your family.

  14. Such a beautiful post. My mother has battled cancer this year. Cancer attacks so much more than a person’s body. Love to you and your family. Love that scripture!

  15. I recently had my uncle, who(m) I loved dearly (he acted as father to me after my dad passed when I was 15) lose his battle with brain cancer. It was one of the hardest ordeals in our lives.
    I pray for a miracle healing for your brother-in-law and for strength for your sister, and your entire family.
    God Bless

  16. So sorry to hear about your brother in law. Cancer sucks!!! I pray for healing for him and that his positive attitude will remain ! Wishing you a happy New Year!

    • Thank you Dawna – and yes – I totally agree! Thanks for your prayers for healing and for them to have unity between them and peace that only comes from God in the midst of such heartache!!! Blessings to you and yours in 2014 sweet friend!!! XO!

  17. Susan says:

    It’s stories like this that make you stop and remeber to be grateful and humble for all you have. Thank you for sharing this.

    • You are so right Susan! It’s easy to look at the little things and wish for more, but truly the blessing of loved ones and the gift of prayer is far greater!!! XO!

  18. Dria says:

    Thank you for sharing – your posts are so wonderfully written.
    This post is so sad. I am sure lots of us have added your brother-in-law and family to their prayer lists (I know I have)….The photo of your sis and brotherin-law and baby–priceless.

    • Thanks Dria. It is sad. I’m seeing new depth to how beautiful God’s love is for His children in the midst of a world that is full of hurt. XO!

  19. I have had them on my prayer list and will continue. Such a brave fight, it gives me pause to see such grace and courage. God Bless to all. Hugs, Marty

    • They are so young and so brave!!! God is definitely empowering through our united prayers!!! May God bless you and yours richly in 2014 Marty!!! XO!

  20. Tina C. says:

    Thank you for your post and sharing such a beautiful passage. I will be praying for your family.

    • Thank you for your prayers Tina! They are the greatest gift anyone could ever share!!! XO!

  21. Bliss says:

    Such good news that the tumors have shrunk. Hopefully they continue to do so and 2014 is a year of full healing.

    • Yes! The shrinking tumors was a huge treat!!! I think it was a special gift from God to allow them to enjoy Christmas less distracted by the cancer. It was a beautiful day filled with lots of praise to Jesus, wrapping paper tearing open, laughter of babies, and hands joined in prayer! XO!

  22. Beautiful, Aimee. Prayers for peace and healing for your sweet family… God is so good and he’s at work all the time.
    Blessings to you and yours in 2014.
    xo Heidi

    • You are so right, He is always good and always at work!!! Thanks so much for your prayers Heidi!!! XO!

  23. Jenna says:

    Thank you Aimee, I hope to repeat that special quote to myself daily in 2014. Your BIL is in my prayers~

    • It’s so easy to loose focus on what is truly important!! We’ll have to keep reminding each other!!! Thanks for your prayers Jenna! XO!

  24. Thank you so much for sharing your BIL’s story with us. It gives a new perspective and causes us to realize that each day of life is a gift. Have a blessed New Year!

    • Spoken with such wisdom Angie!!! Each day is such a gift! Blessings to you and yours in 2014! XO!

  25. Prayers for your family, your BIL is a wonderful man to prepare breakfast for his family.. I am sorry to hear your sister’s family continues to battle his cancer. The photos you captured are beautiful.

    • Thanks so much Carrie. He is an amazing man. Although the time they share as husband and wife may end to quickly, Anna is blessed to have known the love of such a man as Mark!!! XO!

  26. Aimee,
    What a beautiful, inspiring post! We never know the journey others travel. Oh how your heart must be torn! What pain and yet I sense that he and your sister have found peace in the midst of it all. What would any of us do without the grace of God to sustain us through the incredibly difficult places. My prayers go with you. You are definitely an example of faith, hope, and love.

    Prayers for you all as you face the new year.

    • Thanks you Bonnie for your prayers!!! I totally agree, it’s only by the Grace of God that we still have hope, faith, love and joy!!! Blessings to you in 2014!

  27. Jane B says:

    Beautiful post, from the heart. I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now and I’ve been wondering how your sister and brother-in-law have been doing. My heart goes out to them and I believe they have many, many people praying for them, including us – all of your blog friends.

    I hope this year brings even more peace and good news. Small steps and big miracles…

    • You are so insightful Jane! My sister and her hubby have said time and time again that they know it’s the prayers of believers that have sustained them! XO!

  28. Peggy Thal says:

    Sending prayers for your family and most of all your wonderful brother in law.

    • Thank you so much Peggy!!! Prayers are the most precious gift of all! XO!

  29. Pat Champagne says:

    Thank you, and your brother-in-law, for putting life in the proper perspective. I am printing out your 2014 focus and making it my own. It is so obvious that Mark is an Angel sent from God. Bless you all. Pat.

    • Thanks Pat! It has been our prayer for quite some time that Mark would enjoy a beautiful Christmas with his family! God is so kind and faithful to provide blessing in the midst of great suffering!!! Blessings to you sweet friend!!!

  30. Not sure what to say other than thank you for sharing this beautifully written post. <3