Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Easter Weekend, the Russell Family, and a Prayer Request

This is a post I talked about writing with Abigail after Easter, but I think after a few things recently (I'll explain in a minute) this might go in a different direction than I originally planned.

Abigail and JJ on Easter

This is a post about family.

Imitating the freshman at a Wesleyan baseball game

If you know anyone in my family (even somewhat), you probably know that we are close. I love my family and, honestly, I think I have one of the best ones out there. But this post isn't about the Scheid family. It's about my "new" family, the Russell's. 

It's kind of weird in a way to call them my family because I'm not the one marrying into the family, Abigial is, but in a way this marriage unites both of our families. It's something I've thought about since the engagement...our family unit will never be the same as it was. When JJ and Abigail get married they will each be leaving their own respective families and making their own, new family. BUT the thing is, you can't think about "losing" a member of your family. In reality, you're gaining a member...actually LOTS of members.

JJ's brother, Chad

This story starts a few weeks ago when Abigail called me to see if I wanted to join her at the Russell's house for Easter. I had been contemplating going home but I had just been home for Spring Break and really didn't want to drive 8 hours or drive 2 hours then fly, so, going to the Russell's house in Atlanta seemed like the perfect solution. 

My first thought, however, was that I didn't want to be a burden. Beth (Mrs. Russell) has been pretty sick with cancer but Abigail assured me that Beth had given her the go ahead to invite me. Also, I was thinking that while Abigail was marrying JJ and had a reason to be there, I didn't want to be a kind of tag-a-long sister. Then I thought about it from another perspective...if Chad (JJ's younger brother) had wanted to join Easter at our house, I would have LOVED for him to be there. 

Easter cookies before

The weekend wound up being such a great and enjoyable one for me (and hopefully for everyone else too). I was able to meet JJ's grandparents as well as his aunt and uncle. It was wonderful to be able to get to know more people in the Russell family before the actual wedding day and I think that knowing everyone will help make that day even more special. 

We started out with a bit of a laugh when the cookies I made were crushed by my backpack as I was driving through downtown Atlanta. We wound up separating the broken ones and snacking on them all day and saving the pretty ones for Easter dinner. No use crying over broken cookies right? I was continually assured that they tasted delicious despite being broken ;) (Plus no one wanted to eat them initially at the engagement party so maybe this is the way to go??)

The Easter Cookies After (Blamed on my archnemesis, Atlanta traffic)

The rest of the weekend was pretty relaxed, which was nice after school work picking up and becoming more stressful. We spent a good part of the weekend hanging out, playing games, and just enjoying each other's company. The first night was fun because I was able to model my bridesmaid's dress for Beth. Chad and I wound up scheming about our plans for the wedding...just don't tell Abigail ;) (Abs...I'm kidding!)

Just Practicing

I'm happy to report that like my family, the Russell's are able to laugh when things go wrong. After Aunt Kelly had spent all morning making Easter dinner, the rolls that were in the oven caught on fire! Someone opened the oven and called for a fire extinguisher. At the same time, Abigail and I yelled "SHUT IT". Not that we know from experience or anything, but for anyone that doesn't know, if something catches on fire in your oven, just shut the door and turn it off. The fire will run out of oxygen and die. Also, don't use a fire extinguisher in your house unless you absolutely have to. That stuff coats EVERYTHING in a three room radius. Like I said, not that we know from experience or anything...

Husker, Another Visiting Family Member

Abigail and I also had a good laugh because while we were at someone else's house we still did the exact same thing we do every morning at our house we have to get ready for a family event. The white jeans I packed had a stain on them when I pulled them out so I borrowed Abigail's and then she thought her shirt was too thin so she wound up wearing my back up outfit...all of which we wound up frantically ironing before leaving for church because we were running late. All we could hear was Mom saying, "You should have laid our your clothes the night before!" 

Before Easter service

While the funny parts of the weekend were definitely memorable, I think the highlight of the weekend was watching the History Channel's The Bible Easter night. I was originally going to drive back to Auburn that night but decided to skip my class Monday morning and spend more time in Atlanta. In the big scheme, I'll remember my night at the Russell's but I wouldn't have remembered that class. But back to the show, if you haven't seen it, it's a 4 part series that chronicles the stories of the bible. The episode we watched was the last one which started with the crucifixion and went through the ministries of the apostles. I can't begin to even describe how good the show is. They did an amazing job producing it. We all already know the stories but it's one thing to know it and it's another thing to see it. It really helped me think about the stories from the perspective of the time. For example, what do you think Pontius Pilate was thinking when the whole city got dark just as Jesus died? Or how about how much courage it took for the apostles to go where Jesus sent them even though they knew very well they could be killed? It made me think about something important too...Jesus could have opted out of the crucifixion quite a few times, but he didn't. He went through all that pain. Do you think you would have been able to go through all of that for something you were making up? Which leads me to think either he was the craziest guy who ever existed or he was the real thing.

This is starting to shift into the second part of this post, but I also feel EXTREMELY blessed because it was a good weekend for Beth. She was able to sit downstairs on the love seat for most of the day and we could switch up sitting beside her and chat. Abigail told me this past weekend, that Easter was the first really good weekend Beth had had since the engagement, which was the last time I had been to visit. How lucky did I get to visit on those two weekends?  When I say that I consider myself lucky, I really do. I feel like I was able to really talk to Beth and get to know her better when I visited and for that, I feel truly grateful. 

Three Generations of Mrs. Russell's

I visited Abigail this past weekend (the weekend after Easter) at Furman for one of her showers. Jackie (a fellow bridesmaid, and Abigail's friend from high school) flew in that night too and we were all sitting talking when Abigail got a call from JJ saying his mom was in the hospital and it wasn't good. Instead of me explaining the situation, I'll just repost JJ's blog post from CaringBridge:

Last night at 10PM we had to rush Beth (Mom) to the hospital due to continuous vomiting and stomach pain. After performing a few scans, the Dr. informed us that some unknown source is causing air to leak and build up in her abdominal cavity. Were Beth stronger, and able to handle surgery, finding the source of the air and fixing the problem would not be unbelievably difficult. Unfortunately, the caner and chemo therapy have made her very weak, and surgery is not an option. Thus, we find ourselves in a "wait-and-see" situation.

All we can do is wait-and-see what the Lord decides to do. There's a part of me that wants to make it sound like that's an easy thing right now, but it's not. I know that God is good and that he loves us, but I'm finding it hard to trust His goodness amidst these circumstances. It's crazy to think that he really really does have this whole thing under control...ALL of it!

Although we do not know exactly what is causing Beth's complications, we do know that the situation is very serious. Dr.'s have instructed us to inform family members and loved ones to come and say hi to Beth ASAP. We are at Northside Forsyth Hospital in room 5060.

We are so thankful for the love and community that God has blessed us with! Please continue to pray for Beth's continued peace and comfort - that she would rely on the Spirit to give her peace and provide a way for her. God's exact will for her life is completely unknown to us, but we would love prayers for miraculous healing of her body! Thankfully, He has already done the most beautiful miracle and healed her heart.


"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

- Zephaniah 3:17

We assured Abigail that if she wanted to go Atlanta, then that's what she should one really cared about the shower and this was way more important. What wound up happening was that we moved the shower up in the day and after Abigail drove to Atlanta after. 

I drove home Sunday afternoon and stopped in the hospital on my way back. Abigail said before that this was so new for us because we haven't really been around death (or scary serious illness) before, which is partly true. But besides from my grandfather who passed away when I was 6, we haven't experienced the death of a family member and there really is no guide book for how to deal with this roller coaster.

I was able to talk to Beth for a few minutes and spent the rest of the time with JJ, Abigail and some family and friends. I'm very glad I went, but it was difficult in two ways...first, it was really hard to see Beth looking so weak. While I haven't spend too much Beth, she is one of those people that you can't help loving after meeting. [cue me trying not to cry as I keep writing] I think Abigail said it best when she said Beth has a "gentle spirit". I don't think I've used that phrase before for anyone, but Beth truly embodies it. Another remarkable thing is that I've never heard her complain. Abigail said that the entire Russell family is like that. What an amazing gift to have! How often do we complain about the smallest things? We could all take notes from this part of the Russell book. Finally, and most importantly, Beth and the entire Russell family have an incredible strength of faith. I don't know even where to start on this, but they have the rock solid belief that this is God's will. I wish I could have recording Terry's dinner blessing Easter weekend because that family sure does know how to pray. You can see the depth of their faith in the strength they are able to show even if something this difficult...that even through all this, they can have peace. I think that's what being a Christian is all about...being able to keep your beliefs when things get hard and then in turn, to use as your strength when you have none. 

Three Generations of Beautiful Wedding Rings

The second difficult part of visiting the hospital is seeing people you love hurting. The image I keep going back to is Terry holding Beth's hand by her bed, head bent, just praying. It hurts my heart so much to even think about the pain of having a ill spouse. And while, I love everyone in the Russell family, I can't tell you how hard it is to see your sister hurting. While the Russell's, Abigail, and I all have our faith, it still doesn't make any of this easy. It's still really hard. And you know what? Life is pretty darn hard sometimes.

But you know what else? Life is still GREAT. Leaving the hospital really helped put my life in perspective for me. While I still have problems, in the big picture, they are so minuscule in comparison to other people's problems. It reminded me of the quote, "If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back". So while life is hard sometimes, and it's so easy to complain, they are 100x more things we should be thanking God for. And those are the things we should be really putting our energy into.

Abigail and Husker

As I was saying goodbye, Terry said, "Thank you for coming and for joining our family". My response was, "Thank you for letting me join your family". I know this post doesn't do this incredible family justice but I am beyond thankful to know them and glad to know that this is who Abigail is going to be spending the rest of her life with. And while, I'm not the one marrying into this family I would be proud to call them my family too :)

As I was about halfway through this post, my mom texted me to tell me that Beth was going in for surgery at 6:30 (in 20 min, now) so this is my official pray request. Please storm Heaven asking to guide the doctors through a safe and successful surgery and for a full recovery. I'll go ahead and repost the last two posts from CaringBridge here as well so everyone can be up to speed. If you want to keep getting updates you can visit the site here.

some prayers answered and still asking for more
Written Apr 9, 2013 12:09pm by Beth Russell

It's been over 72 hours since Beth was admitted for a hole somewhere in her intestines. The DR's have been monitoring her vital signs very closely and giving her multiple IV meds to keep her nourished, hydrated, antibiotics, blood transfusions, platelets, etc and her vitals have improved each day.
We are so thankful for the outpouring of love and support from family, neighbors and friends. The 'body of 'Christ' has been amazing and we feel it on an hourly/daily basis.
She's not out of the woods yet but things are improving. She has a PET scan set for 2pm today (to get an update on the status of her cancer) then a CT scan in the next couple of days to give a update to the leak in her stomach and what the 'next steps' will be.
Please pray for her pain (it's been better but still seems to spike several times a day) the results of both scans and for guidance from the DR's as to what comes next. We're yet to get any answers as to what's caused the current problem in her stomach and would like to get an answer with a 'game-plan' to fix.

Col: 1:11 - May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.


Prayers needed! Emergency surgery
Written 11 minutes ago by Beth Russell
Beth's scan this afternoon showed a hole in her colon and she needs emergency surgery. they've taken her back to fix the hole and to put another colostomy in. 
We have no other options at this point and know that God is with her. She went into the O.R. with a smile on her face and a glow that resonated a 'peace' from God.
Please pray for the DR's and the surgery and that God would be with her both physically and emotionally.

Phil 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

1 comment:

  1. So inspring! Family is one of the most wonderful things in the world and it is such a blessing to have more. I'm storming Heaven with my prayers for Mrs Russell and the family. I know that if I were in their position they would be doing the same for me--although I only know JJ personally. Lots of love, prayers, and positive thoughts.