She IS and She DOES

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Sadie Caroline Davis has smiled and shined her way into the hearts and lives of so many people over  the past year.  I honestly am more and more proud of Sadie with each passing day.  Her life IS making a difference.  Her life DOES have purpose.  Her smile IS radiant.  And God’s purpose for her life (and ours) IS big.  She doesn’t have to be here physically to make her mark on us every day.  She is making a lasting impression, and many lives have been changed because of what God is doing through Sadie’s life journey.  As we near the dreaded one year mark of watching her breathe her last breath here on Earth, I am encouraged by the “breath” that her life has given so any of us over the past year.  God will not, cannot, and has not let our loss go unredeemed.  Though pain comes in the night, joy comes in the morning.  God has a purpose that far exceeds the pain that we have felt since November of last year.  He is at work, and although our hearts ache because we miss our sweet girl so much, we know that He will not forsake us.  We’ve been real honest with God about our struggles as we try to wrap our arms around what has happened to our family, and He has reached down with His arms of strength and His heart of comfort.  I am not left questioning why God didn’t answer our begging prayers the way we wanted Him to last year this time–instead, I am thanking Him for walking with us through the grief of the past year, and somehow, by His grace, we are still standing!  I will never be happy about losing Sadie to cancer, but I am thankful for the way God has revealed Himself in a very personal way to so many of us.  I have Sadie heavy on my mind today, but I would rather have her on my mind and heart with tears streaming down my cheek than to not have her at all.  I am honestly so blessed.
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Something to Smile About

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I received some pretty amazing news from my friend Kelli Shannon today!  Her husband, Ryan, got on the bone marrow registry as a result of the drive that took place last year when Sadie was sick.  He was contacted today and told that he is a match for a lady that is in need of a transplant!  Once he completes a physical, and assuming the patient is in good enough health, Ryan will be donat…ing bone marrow in mid-January!  It is absolutely overwhelming to me to think that someone’s life may be saved because of Ryan’s willingness, and as a result of my sweet Sadie’s journey.  I think about the person who is sick and in need of a transplant hearing that they found a match for her–a stranger willing to help save her life.  I think of her family and how they are probably clinging to this little bit of good news right now.  This all just brings me to tears.  Good tears.  Please pray for God’s perfect will in this.  Pray for the lady’s health who is in need of a transplant.  Pray for Ryan’s physical to come back good.  Pray for the family of this lady, and for Ryan and Kelli to be showered with blessings because of their willingness and sacrifice.  I know them, and they will give God the glory. 

A Recurring Theme–“Last Year This Time”…

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The “last year this time”s are flooding my mind like crazy.  Last year this time was the last day that my sweet Sadie woke up in the safety of our home.  It was the last time I got to get her ready for a “normal” day.  It was her last day at day care.  I was on my way to a Thanksgiving celebration at work, where I proclaimed how thankful I was that God miraculously healed my baby from meningitis.  I had no idea that later that evening, we would be rushing her back to the ER at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.  I thought we were in the clear, when in reality the nightmare had only just begun.  We were allowed a short reprieve and a few sweet days with our babygirl at home.  I miss her so much.  A year later, the pain is still so deep.  We are starting to come to grips with our new reality, and we actually have some “good” days, but the thought of our sweet Sadie is never more than an instant away.  I long desperately for the day I can think of my precious child and want to do something besides cry.  She was pure joy.  She was one of God’s greatest gifts in my life, yet I cry.  I cry because I love her so much, and I am so disappointed in how her sweet life was cut short.  At least in my mind.  I have to constantly remind myself that God knew the number of her days before one of them came to be.  That He had, and HAS, a plan for her life, and for our lives, too.  In light of all that we have endured over the past year, I am changed.  I am still Amber, but not the same Amber as before.  It’s been a hard reality, because I kind of liked being happy, perky, fun-loving Amber.  Those things don’t come as naturally these days…they’re still in there, but are immediately met with the heartache that permeates in our lives these days.  I have had to rediscover myself and meet the new me.  I want to be someone I can live with.  Someone who can still find joy in the day.  Someone who can laugh, be happy, and be an encouragement to others, despite the pains of this life.  Oftentimes, I have questioned why this life has to be a prerequisite to what is ahead.  If Heaven is all about joy and happiness, then why does pain and heartache have to be a part of our life experience here on Earth?  I am coming to the realization that, as painful and hard as it is, the pains of this life have the ability to shape us into better people.  To make us stronger.  To make us realize that our strength is not our own, but comes from God.  To remind me that no, I don’t have everything under control.  And to remember that God will give me the strength and endurance to make it through anything.  His power and love are revealed through our weaknesses.  And if we are transparent enough to let others see that we are not superheroes, then maybe they will be encouraged to lean in to the Lord as well.  Realizing that He can do the same for them.  I never knew what it was like to REALLY have to trust the Lord until the past year.  I lost not only my sweet Sadie, but I had to say goodbye to my Daddy, too.  Cancer is a beast, and has changed the face of our family.  Yet we still wake up each day, searching for purpose and meaning to all of this.  I truly believe that, because I am still here, and still have the privilege of breathing in and out, that God has a purpose for me here…today…right now.  May I be the Amber He wants me to be…here…today…right now.  I love you all.  Thank you for all of your words of encouragement.  For your love.  And for walking this journey with us.  I have never experienced outstretched arms like I have over the past year.  We feel your prayers.  We know that you hurt with us.  Thank you all for inserting yourselves into our lives and for growing, loving, and living with us. 

Last Day of Normal

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November 5th of last year was my last day of “normal”.  The last day that I thought I had two healthy kids and not too many troubles.  Life was good.  And life still is good, but I have to work harder to see it.  I have to sift through my sorrow and intentionally acknowledge the gifts of God.  They have been here all along–they are just easier to see when you don’t have tears falling from your eyes.  Trying today to remember the words of a song that Katie  posted earlier–“Every tear, every cry, every prayer.  In my hurt and my worst.  When my world falls.  Not for a moment will You forsake me.  After all YOU ARE CONSTANT, and after all YOU ARE ONLY GOOD.  After all YOU ARE SOVEREIGN.  Not for a moment will You forsake me.”

So glad to know that I will not be forsaken.  I can take refuge in my God.  I can trust Him, EVEN WHEN HE DOESN’T ANSWER MY PRAYERS THE WAY I WANT HIM TO.  He is STILL God, and He is STILL good.  He STILL loves me.  He STILL works everything for the good of those who walk in accordance with His will.  I pray His protection on my family.  I pray for blessings as we try to walk forward with only memories of our sweet Sadie.  I will be the first to give Him the glory as He redeems this tragedy.

Trying to be careful not to only give thanks to God when He does what I request of Him.  I want to give Him thanks, even when I am left in a puddle of endless tears.  Thanks that He will not leave me here.  Not alone.  Not forever.  He will lead me to a brighter pathway.  And every step I take is one step closer to seeing my adorably precious Sadiebug again.  So incredibly thankful for her impact in my life.  I miss her sweetness more than words could ever describe.  Our reunion on the other side, and in God’s timing, will be pretty fabulous–of that I am confident.

Love Big. Spread Sunshine–Recap of a Wonderful Outreach to myLIFEspeaks and Neply, Haiti

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I am so excited about this post!

What kind of difference can $1,909 make in Neply, Haiti?

ONE THOUSAND, NINE-HUNDRED AND NINE DOLLARS worth of Love Big Spread Sunshine magnet purchases, and 147 different people chipping in to make a HUGE difference, can do the following, specifically in the Special Education room at the school in Neply:

* Buy new toys and activities for the Special Ed classroom * Purchase new Creole/English books to start a library in the Special Ed classroom * Supply a second uniform for each child in the Special Ed classroom (they currently only have one uniform per student).

Currently, there are 10 students in the Special Education classroom, and this donation will go a long way to better their learning environment, and will remind these children that they are a vital and very important part of the community of Neply.

Also–myLIFEspeaks is going to put a plaque in the Special Ed classroom in memory of our sweet Sadie.  It will represent each of you who took part in this outpouring of love!  So, THANK YOU for making a difference, and for spreading some sunshine to these children (and their parents and teachers and friends) in Neply!

This kind of giving doesn’t just help the people receiving the gift–it helps each of us to keep a perspective of love and generosity, and reminds us to be thankful for the blessings that God has given each of us.  Together, we are spreading happy childhood smiles all over the world.  I can’t even begin to tell you what an impact that makes on me as I reflect on the unbelievable purpose that Sadie Davis had, and CONTINUES TO HAVE here on Earth. I am one proud Mama.

If you have a donation outstanding, or still want magnets, I have a few left, and will be sending another check to myLIFEspeaks in a couple of weeks.  I’ll post a revised total at that time.

Love you all!  Have a great weekend!

“Sadie’s Really Happy in her Spot”–Eli Davis

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Eli (on the way to school this morning):  “I’m sad that Sadie’s gone, but I’m happy for Sadie, because Sadie’s really happy in her spot.”

Me:  “What spot?” (a little perplexed, thinking he’s referring to “Sadie’s spot”, which is how we refer to the location of her physical body on West Division Street in Mt Juliet)

Eli:  “Her spot up to Heaven.”

Me:  (eyes fill with tears and pretty much speechless)

For goodness sake, I am looking forward to the day that I can sift through all of these emotions, and somehow transition from being so sad that Sadie’s “gone”, to being so “happy for Sadie, because Sadie’s really happy in her spot”…thank you once again, Eli Davis.  I wish I could process life so black and white.

Ultimately, Sadie is right where every parent longs for their child to end up.  I just really wanted to get to hang out with her here for awhile longer, that’s all.

Many parents lose their babies before they even get a chance to know them, so I am very thankful for the time I had here with Sadie.

Many other parents “lose their babies” by watching them turn their back on God and walk down their own path toward unrighteousness.

Our 17 months with Sadie was filled with many joys, and having her here changed my life for the better.  I am plagued for right now by the devastation that comes with losing my precious girl to cancer, but I am grateful for the blessing of her life.  I am so sad when I can’t even think of her without tears filling my eyes, but I am thankful for the legacy she is leaving.  No parent wants their child’s story to be, “she was so beautiful and so precious and then she died of childhood cancer”.  I just can’t let that be the end of Sadie’s story.  I think that’s part of the reason we are wanting to reach out and try to do good for others on her behalf, and to share the love of Christ.  I want there to be a big comma after the “she died of childhood cancer” part.  I want the rest of the sentence to be “, and then her sweet life affected so many others in a good way”.

Thank you to those of you who have shared with me how God has grabbed a hold of your life through this.  That’s often how He works.  God did not strike Sadie down with cancer.  But He did know the story of her life before she was ever born.  And yet He decided that, despite the pain He knew we would all be facing right now, that the end result of this happening to her would be for our good.  THAT is what keeps me from giving up.  THAT is what makes me (through tears) say, “God, I trust You”.  His ways are not my own, but nevertheless, I trust Him.

Tim forwarded me a really good article this morning about “The Silence of God”.  He and I both found it very encouraging, so I think I’ll copy it here for you to read, if you’d like:

 

Vol. 9, No. 77

The Silence of God

Few Christians have chronicled their struggle with God more poignantly than C.S. Lewis.

The famed Christian author was deeply in love with his wife, Joy.  Not long after their relationship began, she was diagnosed with cancer.  She endured a long and terrible season of illness before she died.

Lewis wrote about his feelings following Joy’s death in a series of notebooks that were later published just before his own death in 1963.  Lewis’ most telling observation?  The silence of God.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.  I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.  The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness…On the rebound one passes into tears and pathos.  Maudlin tears.  I almost prefer the moments of agony.  These are at least clean and honest…

…”Meanwhile, where is God?…When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him…if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms.  But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find?  A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.  After that, silence.  You may as well turn away.  The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become…

…”Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”

The experience of the silence of God is real.  Many of us have felt it.  Times when we cry out to God, and there seems to be no answer.  We pray, pouring out our hearts, only to hear the words echo back without a reply.

The maddening thing is that we have been conditioned to believe that there is a direct relationship between input and output.  Cause and effect.  The interplay between what I do and what happens.  When we cry out to God, and nothing happens, how can we help but feel that something’s not quite right – and that the problem is with the Listener?

The silence, however, is seldom permanent.

Lewis would later write these words:

“I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted…[I was like] the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs.”

So what was he clutching and grabbing?

What was he missing in what first seemed like silence?

Many of us mistake God’s “no’s” for silence.  Or His “not yets.”  But for me, the easiest one to miss, but the most important to attend to, is when we’re experiencing “deep calling to deep.”

Consider the words of the 42nd psalm:

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:1-3, NIV).

Here is someone who is hungering for a word from God.  He alludes to a difficult time, a season where he has been calling out to God in the midst of pain, grief or confusion.  From all angles, it appears as if God is silent to his cries.  So much so that those around him say, “Where is this God of yours that you pray to?”

But notice what he goes on to write – words that read as if they were transcribed from the most reflective of journals:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God…My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you…Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls” (Psalm 42:5-7, NIV).

The psalmist comes to see that there is no silence – there’s just an answer coming from God that’s deeper than words.  God is present, and speaking, but what He’s saying isn’t resting on the surface waters of life.

This is a season where deep is calling to deep.

When I was nineteen years old and in college, I was invited to a weekend party at a nearby university.  My friend, Phil, was going, and encouraged me to come along.  He said that there would be five of us in the car, but there would be room.  I wanted to go, and tried to make it happen, but couldn’t.

They left without me on a Friday afternoon.  Two days later, as they returned to campus, a car from the opposite flow of traffic crossed the dividing line, became airborne, and landed headfirst into their car.

All four were killed instantly.

I first heard the news late that Sunday night.  I left my dorm, walked over to the nearby athletic complex, hopped a locked fence, and sat in the empty football stadium under a moonlit sky.  I grieved for my friend; I thought of the brevity of life, and how close I had come to being killed.

I remember crying out to God to help me sort it all out, to make sense of it all.  To talk to me…to say something…anything!

Silence.

In truth, it was one of the deepest conversations we had ever had.  He was speaking to me, moving within me, communing and communicating with me on levels that had never been opened to Him before.

It was the start of many conversations – some even more traumatic.

Within four months I became a Christian.

It is of paramount importance to consider that it’s not silence we’re encountering, but a pregnant pause; a prompting to engage in personal reflection so that the deepest of answers, the most profound of responses, can be given – and heard.

This is the mark of all master-teachers.

I once read an article in Fast Company that profiled the chess master and much sought-after mentor, Bruce Pandolfini.  Here’s how he described his work with his students:

“My lessons consist of a lot of silence.  I listen to other teachers, and they’re always talking…I let my students think.  If I do ask a question and I don’t get the right answer, I’ll rephrase the question – and wait.  I never give the answer.  Most of us really don’t appreciate the power of silence.  Some of the most effective communication – between student and teacher, between master players – takes place during silent periods.”

Could this be how God is mentoring us?

Is the silence the work of a Master Teacher?

When I go through seasons where God’s answers do not come quickly or on the surface of things – when the way God interacts with my prayers draws me deeper into Him for guidance and trust, dependence and obedience – the answers I find radically transcend what I initially sought to find.

I get introduced to sin that I needed to confront;

…patterns of behavior I needed to break;

…insight into who I am that I didn’t have before;

…and depths of relationship with God that I had never experienced.

Such revelations are worth the silence, for in such silence came the voice of God.

Perhaps this is behind the ancient name for the extended prayer that is given while one might normally be sleeping.  “Vigils” means waiting.  It also gives insight, and appreciation, for why “listen” is the first word of St. Benedict’s Rule for monasteries.

Before even these insights came the ancient “desert tradition” of Christianity.  Though the sandy terrain was often literal for the early church fathers and mothers, Alan Jones writes of how they mostly entered the desert of the spirit:  “a place of silence, waiting, and temptation,” which is also “a place of revelation, conversion, and transformation.”  According to the desert tradition, such “empty” places were actually full, for it was out of the deadening silences that people were known to be reborn.

I know that it held that for me.

And will many times again.

James Emery White

 

 

Sources

Adapted from James Emery White, Wrestling with God (InterVarsity Press).

  

 

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.  His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press).  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Love Big, Spread (Sadie) Sunshine to the Village of Neply in Haiti

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In mid-November 2012, our then 16-month-old daughter, Sadie Davis, was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia called Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which presented itself primarily in her Central Nervous System. Until then, she seemed like a perfectly healthy toddler—beautiful, playful, and progressing just like any other little girl.  She bravely fought her battle against this vicious cancer at the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, where the amazing doctors and nurses did everything they could medically to give her a chance at life.  On December 21, 2012, after exactly 40 days and 40 nights at VCH, Sadie breathed her last breath here on Earth, and her first in Heaven with her Maker.  Our hearts are torn in a million pieces, but we are trusting that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).

Since Sadie’s earthly death, our family has felt compelled to do various things to reach out to others who are going through a hard time.  Today, we would like to think outward and help children in another country—Haiti.  Specifically the village of Neply, which is where My Life Speaks Ministries of Nashville is focused.  Neply is a village of about 2500 people, and My Life Speaks is working to provide a better quality of life for families there.  We know several people involved in this ministry, and trust wholeheartedly that any $$$ given to them will be used to help these families have an opportunity in life.  I had a wonderful conversation with Missy Wilson from My Life Speaks, and in that conversation, I asked her if she could give me an idea where  the majority of funds raised would be used, trusting that she would have a great idea as to where the need is the greatest in this community.  She immediately replied that this money will be predominately used in their new special needs classroom at the school at Neply, and also to treat children and families at the medical clinic in the village.  This meant a lot to me, because in the course of a day, my daughter needed significant medical attention, and became a special needs patient.  I can’t imagine how I would have felt if she was not given the love and care that she so desperately needed.  Supporting this ministry is a way that we can know that we truly are reaching out and helping those less fortunate than us.  To learn more about My Life Speaks, click here.

Having said that, I am now taking orders for the following fridge and car magnets:

Love Big Spread Sunshine (blue-circle) Love Big Spread Sunshine

The blue-rimmed picture will be printed round, and the orange-rimmed picture will be printed square with rounded edges.

Fridge Magnets are 2.5”x2.5”, and car magnets (made thicker) are 4.5”x4.5”.  Both pictures are available in both fridge and car magnets.

Fridge Magnets:  $3/each

Car Magnets:  $6/each

If you are not particular as to which design you want, I will surprise you!  If you prefer to be more specific, that’s fine, too.  Just make sure you let me know which design you want (blue or orange).

If you need them shipped, be sure to give me your address, and add the following:

$3 if a car magnet is part of your order

$1 if a car magnet is not part of your order

If you feel compelled, please round your order up to the nearest $5, and the additional $$$ will also go directly to My Life Speaks.

Please make checks payable to Amber Davis, and mail to 213 Cobblestone Landing, Mt. Juliet, TN  37122, or feel free to catch me at Mt. Juliet Early Learning Center or The Journey Church or wherever else you might find me.  If you have a PayPal account and want to pay that way, my email address is happygal1@msn.com (this is definitely the easiest thing to do, and is free—see PayPal instructions below).  I will get your order to you promptly once payment is received.

Thank you for loving our family, and for helping our sweet Sadiebug have a positive impact far and wide.  I’m excited to know that Sadie magnets will be filling fridges and roadways in Middle-Tennessee and around the country!

Love and peace,

Tim, Amber, and Eli Davis (and of course, Sadie!)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Paypal instructions:

Go to www.paypal.com

Click on Transfer>Send someone money

Enter your email and mine (happygal1@msn.com)

Enter the dollar amount you wish to send, including shipping if it needs to be mailed.

Click on “Continue”.

Follow the rest of the prompts (if you are transferring from your bank account to mine, it is free.  If you pay with a debit or credit card through PayPal, please add $.88 to your order, as this will be taken out of your total $$ value when you submit your order).

Sadie Nov 6

This picture was taken on the afternoon of November 6, 2012.  Just hours before we rushed our sweet Sadie to the ER at the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.  She was diagnosed ten days later with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (it was hard to diagnose because it presented itself primarily in her central nervous system–apparently very rare), and chemo started immediately.  Sadie wore this same smile until her smile muscles just didn’t work any more, and we physically and spiritually placed her into the hands of God at 11:58am on Friday, December 21, 2012.  Emotionally, I think we’re still hanging onto her with all our might.  Allowing Sadie’s legacy to reach out and help other people lets us focus more on the positive impact her life is having, instead of the extreme sadness we feel over losing her.  Everything we can do to help others hopefully points people to the love of Christ, and reminds us to love big and share sunshine while we can.