Take Heart…

Two years ago today, in Minnesota, at 2:47pm, a mom, dad and two older brothers said goodbye to their five year old daughter & sister. Audrey left this earthly life to join Jesus and all of His children in Heaven. In those dark hours leading up to her passing, when faced with so much emotion, her older brother suggested saying ‘yes’ to donating her organs and told his parents, “her organs will help others, and that’s the type of thing Audrey loved to do”. Audrey’s organs saved 4 lives, and one we know quite well, with her amazingly strong heart.

Almost exactly 12 hours later, in Michigan, a phone call awakened me after I had cried myself to sleep feeling more sure that the reality of my 8 year old son’s very sick heart couldn’t keep going much longer. After waiting over a year for that call, I was overwhelmed with emotion and fear. God had a plan…one I still don’t fully understand and probably never will.

In the last few months, Audrey’s mom and I have been emailing often. We have been getting to know Audrey, Tommy and each other better. It has been both painful and powerful as we slowly open up to one another. The details aren’t worked out yet, but we are making plans for both of our families to meet this summer. I can’t quite begin to imagine what that union will be like, but I know we are following God’s plan.

As it has been all of Tommy’s life, we don’t know what’s next for him. We know that receiving a heart transplant is not a cure for Tommy and that we will likely have more bumps along the way, but my prayer is that I can trust and believe (knowing that these two words are pretty much one in the same), in the smooth and rough times. We have made it to the two year mark and from a medical standpoint, he is doing well. As I see it, he is still making up for lost time and what a blessing and a gift that he can do just that. He will be finishing 4th grade next week, attending UofM’s transplant camp the end of June and having his heart biopsy in mid-July.

In addition to Audrey’s mom, I believe God has put several different people in my path over the last few months to speak to my heart on the subject of trials, trust, belief, hope, joy and redemption. I realize those are some ‘big’ words, but they all have something in common to me. This world is not perfect but rather filled with sin and despite that, we are called to serve one another in relationship, being open to what God is calling us to do in any given situation. I don’t want to sound like Oprah’s ‘sermon’ on her last show, but it’s a fact, ‘in this world there WILL be trouble and we need to ‘take heart’, believing that God IS still all love, even when heartache and tragedy strikes. In being exposed to many trials, this has sometimes been a hard concept for me to grasp, but lately I think I’ve been “getting it” more. Pain is universal, meaning on some level we all endure it, plain and simple, it’s a guarantee. The next question we need to ask ourselves is can we eventually find a purpose in it?

Recently, I have sat with a friend whose marriage is in crisis and young children are involved, I’ve listened to a friend say they have no money and no job, I met and talked with a mom in my oldest son’s class whose 12 year old was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I had lunch with my friend who lost her son two years ago and the list goes on. However, I have also shared in my friends’ walk and heard about their trip to Ethiopia where they met their 5 year old son they’re adopting and hope to soon bring home to Michigan to join their 3 other sons. I have taken part in the joy of two healthy babies recently born in to our ‘family’ and I continue to see God’s hand in the lives of so many others I’m privileged to know who are serving or ministering as a result of their heartache. I have seen, firsthand, there is such great blessing in that.

I want to end with some of the lyrics from a song by Sanctus Real (their lead singer, Matt Hammitt has an infant son with HLHS), called ‘The Redeemer”, they sum it up quite well….

I don’t have every answer in life
But I’m trusting You one day at a time
‘Cause You can make a weak heart stay alive forever
this is where Heaven and Earth collide
I lift my hands and give my life
This is how my weary heart stays alive
‘Cause You can make anything new…


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3 thoughts on “Take Heart…

  1. thank you for sharing the many blessings that have come from this tragedy. what an incredible journey for all of you. thanks for sharing, colleen.

  2. My dear friend…..it Is such a blessing to be apart if your family. To have stood next to you through Tommy’s heart transplant has been an honor!! You and Mike have always has the love of Jesus first…..I miss seeing and being with you each day….I love you!!!!!

  3. Wow. My eyes are filled with tears – of joy and sorrow. Joy to be able to celebrate this 2 year anniversary of Tommy’s new heart. Sorrow for Audrey’s family as they continue to adjust to a life on this earth without their daughter. Colleen, you and your whole family are an incredible blessing to me and my family (of all men!). Happy Heart Birthday, Tommy!