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.
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.
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.
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).
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.