Friday, July 14, 2006

Brent called this morning and reports he is having a hard time getting an internet connection at the cyber-cafes to update the web site but says that all is well, today they left the mountains and they expect that their last opportunity to perform the drama will be tonight. Their schedule has varied a lot from their itinerary but as they have gone village to village the team has worked well together and continued to support one another. They have been passing a flu bug back and forth but hope to lick it before their return to the States. He also reported that they had seen their first statement of faith, so we can praise the Lord for that!


Without a doubt one of the hardest things I have experienced was watching Brent's family go through the ordeal that would ultimately lead to BJ's death. "Death"...such a hard word, final and ugly; yet his witness continues to reach out to others and lead them toward Christ, as do the lives of so many others who were motivated or convicted as a result.

(Never do we want anyone to think that glorifying BJ's life and death are the purpose for this blog, they only served as the catalyst. We continue this blog to offer encouragement and hope and to help point you toward Jesus Christ - there is no other point.)

As days turned into weeks, weeks to over a month, and a trip to the emergency room to a journey to Heaven, there was so much going on in the hearts, minds and lives of his family and friends. Brent and Deanna, as would have any loving parents with the ability to do so (and with the understanding of some terrific employers) stuck to his side for the 40 plus days he would survive. They only left the hospital on occasion to eat - with Deanna spending one night at home with the girls after 2 plus weeks at the hospital - but only one night. Friends were everpresent with many others longing to be there to show their support firsthand.

Lauren and Whitney tried hard to get through daily "routines" that included work and ministry, but nearly every extra hour was spent at the hospital. As the days added up so did the stress of the situation. No matter how hard you try to be there for each other you ultimately each experience it for yourself and must deal with it in your own way, only "together". Our Heavenly Father was there in a real way through the lives of friends and aquaintences, family and co-workers, hospital staff and blood donors, and of course - providing an inner strength. This helped keep things in some perspective during a time when nothing else held the importance that it had before. (In fact, several days after Hurricane Katrina had hit the Gulf coast I heard newscaster talking about "Katrina" and had to ask who "she" was).

There were times of great frustration - bred of little sleep, too much stress and not knowing what was going to happen. There were highs and lows constantly swapping emotional dominance as BJ and the staff fought so valiantly through so many procedures, surgeries - all done in his ECMO unit room because he was too weak to be moved and the equipment was to large to be moved. With each surgical "victory" hope would build but the next setback was just around the corner. This process, day after day, was terribly draining on all levels as any of you who have experienced similar situations can attest.

Brent and Deanna were at BJ's side when Whit moved into the dorm for her first semester of college - it was difficult for her I know (as it was for them to miss it) but she handled it with grace. Trying to start the school year, or do anything else for that matter was very difficult for both Lauren and Whitney. Even getting out with friends on occasion for a break could do little to shift their thought patterns.

Lauren also returned to school during this time while her focus was on her brother. She at least was a returning student with a good support system in place - not to make it sound easier for her than it was because it was anything but. Some of these same friends drove her back to the hospital from Marion hours after she arrived to be with Beej just before he met Jesus.

Other than going out to eat, the only time I remember Brent leaving proved to be one of the hardest things for me to understand throughout this period. A nationally syndicated Christian broadcaster out of a city just north of Indy had invited Brent to come to be interviewed about BJ's story, along with one of his pastor friends. Brent really didn't want to leave the hospital but eventually did agree to do so. After arriving at the studio he and the pastor were turned away because they apparently weren't dressed to the satisfaction of the broadcaster. While Brent was there, Deanna and the girls shared the last moment when Beej would became aware enough of their presence to respond to their questions with body movements. Needless to say, Brent was heart-broken but this too was handled with much more grace than I could have mustered. He helped me keep my actions in check, knowing that nothing that could be said or done would change anything.

Throughout this trial in our lives I saw the Lord working in and through their family in amazing ways. I saw them stepping up to the challenges and in retrospect, saw them being prepared for the next phase of their lives. They are all human and there were times it seemed one more thing would be too much. But over and over I saw the Lord provide more grace and more ...just more.

I'm sorry for the rehash of what most of you know, but I know there are new people all of the time and, well, needed to share this. Just know that however difficult life is, we do choose how we will react to it. But the closer we are to the Father, the more of Him others will see in our responses to adversity. When those we love are going through extreme circumstances we need to give more grace, more prayer and more of ourselves (which I saw demonstrated daily from so many - I literally was in awe of the support I saw for the family).

May God truly bless all of you who have played a role in this wide support system for my brother's family, and for us his extended family as well. It has been a greater blessing to them, to us, than any of you can ever know this side of Heaven (where I trust it will become clear).

In Christ,



At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brad, thanks again for sharing from the heart.

Amen to what you've said about the manner in which we react to events showing our closeness (or lack thereof) to God. I can think of a couple of times when, during extreme circumstances, Dan and I have not responded in a God-honoring way within our hearts. PERHAPS it looked like we were handling things better than our bitter hearts were really reacting.

And you are correct--we DO CHOOSE how we are going to react! Unfortunately, it's often difficult to catch our emotions in time to not spew them...

Please pray for our family and a few friends from church as we travel to Veracruz, Mexico for 8 days of ministry there. It is a 16 to 20 hour drive, and we will be very hot in their summer climate. We pray that we will be a true reflection of our loving God!

In Christ, Jolene Tucker

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for updates.
As i read today, I am reminded of all those memories of BJs 40 plus days and the grace and strenght family and friends showed throughout.
I am reminded. Today, as I go meet with staff to arrange my Moms Hospice care, I can be strong enough because God will hold me up and give me strength I need to get trough the next stage coming as God has helped me through the last weeks of my moms Parkinsons disease as it's taken over her body.
Dear Lord I pray she is not sufferring in her body as she is unable to communicate anymore.
I know Jesus is in her heart
and I give thanks for her.
In Jesus name I pray
Indpls., IN

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. thanks so much for that posting. it honestly touched me today.
love, amanda andrews, fbc mooresville

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

praise the Lord that we have one more (that we know of) in the family of Christ!


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