Thursday, January 5, 2017

From Esther and Mike

(Esther's post on Team Brighter Days FB page):

Since I have no words, I am posting Mike's letter to our church in hopes that it will be an encouragement to you. We know many share in the deep ache of missing our girl, Ava Bright. Though it is tempting for us to lay down and give up, we look to the example of our sweet girl during her last moments on earth.

She galloped toward the finish line, even when the oxygen no longer reached her lungs - until the final beat of her heart.

It will be my absolute privilege and honor to, one day, share about Ava's last few hours before going to heaven. For now, we look to God to provide the very next breath of air so that we do not suffocate under this heavy blanket of sorrow.

Thank you for your continued prayers for us and for our girl, Gwen, who has been profoundly impacted by the loss of her sister. She cries out with us and lays in bed with us, understanding the depth of this experience in a way many children her age could not. That is how strong their bond was. I am so thankful that she was able to experience that kind of love.

We will also include the tentative schedule for the memorial services below. We look forward to celebrating Ava's life with everyone who loved her.


Dear Family,

Esther and I, and many times Gwen, have been huddled in our room for the past four days weeping and crying out. Jude simply has no idea what is going on. Esther and I have been counseling each other, needing so much help from each other to deal with the endless sources of pain and sadness. Some measure of solace comes from the fact that Ava herself, less than a month ago, asked God to stop the suffering, saying that she wanted to go home. In God's mercy, grace, and love for her, He answered her prayer to the contrary of countless thousands that were asking that she be healed and remain here.

We may always suffer the confusion of why she has suffered illness all throughout her life, and why the disease was allowed to persist till the end. But we rejoice in her being taken up by God out of this world and into His own embrace. Ava lived in such a way that has reached the core of what truly matters to me and what doesn't. For she kept suffering with such perseverance and continued to care deeply for her loved ones and show kindness to all people. She did this even when it was so hard to take one step or even a satisfying breath of air.

It has been extremely difficult also to fight against the many regrets, failures, and missed opportunities we have had with her over these eight years, given how truly precious she is. We've even been battling against the conclusion that we somehow caused this terrible and ceaseless suffering upon her. Esther has been especially good to me in helping me fight against that.

Our lives have been overturned. It's not just because we occupied so much of ourselves with her basic need to survive in the face of a barrage of attacks against her life. But it's also the Christlike character that God infused into her, from the beginning of her life to the final beat of her heart. All of this makes her absence so deafening.

Yet we are beckoned to align ourselves with the irrefutable result of all of this: the glory of Jesus Christ. Despite how we feel, God has been and will continue to be glorified. We conclude that this must be the point of all her struggles, and we believe that her passing will somehow also be used for God's honor and glory.

Our sorrowful state will likely evolve, as someone told us that this kind of grief is not linear but a journey of lots of ups and downs. Yet the Lord is worthy of all our praise, including the kind that comes out of horrifying pain.

Thank you for being the church that we can worship our God with, in every mindset and every phase of life. We love you. Worshiping our Heavenly Father is what we need to do and what we long to do, knowing that our connection with Jesus is the only hope we have to persevere through this. So we hope to see you at church on Sunday, and want you to know that starting this evening, Esther and I will be attending the OIL Retreat in Wheaton so that we can be filled up and unite ourselves with corporate worship right away.

Nothing is the same anymore. But God is the same.

With fresh determination in her steps, Ava enters into His heavenly house of worship, lifting her joyful hands to our good, good Father.

Looking heavenward,



Ava's Memorial Service - preliminary info

Thank you for everyone's patience. Details are still being discussed, but Ava's memorial service will be two weekends from now, January 13th (private service) and the14th.

Due to limited seating, the service on the 14th will be open to those who personally know Ava and the Lee family: Mike, Esther, Uncle David, Uncle Matt, and the Lee grandparents.

For now, the service on the 13th will be a private service for family and close friends. However, if the 14th fills to capacity, we will consider opening up the 13th as well. Please RSVP as soon as possible to the Facebook Event posted here to help us organize.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
Mike and Esther

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