11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
About two and half years ago, a friend of mine was in St. Louis for the birth of her grandson, Joshua. This sweet baby boy was the second Downs Syndrome child born to her daughter and son-in-law (Betsy and Frank)…..who already had the blessing of precious Caleb! She emailed me this photograph that captures more emotion than I could ever put into words! When Susie sent this to me, I remember thinking that it was a picture I wanted to save forever. Betsy and Frank’s journey since that day has not been an easy one, but I can tell you that because of their faith it has been a beautiful one!!! (Betsy, you know how much I love you!!! I’ve loved you since you were just a young teenage girl full of smiles, dreams, and a HUGE love for God!!! You amaze me!!)
Well, a few days after Joshua’s arrival, Susie wrote to tell me about a basket that had been delivered to Betsy and Joshua while in the hospital from an organization called “Basket of Hope.” She described in detail all of the wonderful things the basket and held and wondered if I had ever heard of it.
I had never heard of this organization, so I went to their website to learn more about this amazing ministry. At the time, Nick was very sick. I wanted so badly to see this ministry at the hospital in Columbus, but I truly didn’t have the emotional or physical energy to do anything at the time. But I wrote to Angela, the director, to ask for information for the future and received a large notebook, DVD, and brochures which I went through thoroughly, hoping someday to help this ministry make its way to Columbus Children’s Hospital.
Within the same week that I talked with Angela, one of the wide receivers from the Detroit Lions (Mike Furrey) and his wife also spoke with her about beginning this ministry in…..
you guessed it!
Columbus Children’s Hospital!!! Mike and Koren Furrey’s hometown is Columbus!!!
Well, Angela gave Mike and Koren Nick’s website address
hoping to connect us, and one evening Mike and Koren sat down and went through Nick’s site page by page.
You probably guessed it!! JOSHUA 1:9
Since that day, we have become such great friends with Mike and Koren!!
In December of 2007, we traveled to Detroit to watch the Lions play the day after Christmas!!
Although we had talked to Mike and Koren on the phone and through email for several months at that time, this was our first time to meet them in person. Our visit was so wonderful! I love this picture of Nick leaning over the stadium to shake Mike’s hand. Mike is saying to Nick, “You are my hero.”
And honestly, if you asked Mike today, he would say the same thing!
Mike, I know that you are in a “waiting time” right now.
I can’t help but think that Nick is cheering you on from above and reminding you of your and his favorite verse!!
Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or discouraged!! God is with you!!!!
We are praying too!!!
One of my most favorite memories with Mike is when he flew to Lexington, KY, one day all the way from Detroit during spring training and then rented a car to drive to our little town in Grayson to surprise Nick on “Nick Nischan Day!”
The look on Nick’s face was priceless as he watched a video from Mike and Koren saying how sorry they were that they couldn’t make it to the event…..
and then to see Mike come through the back door of the sanctuary and walk straight to Nick wearing his “Nick Nischan Day” t-shirt!!!! Wow!
Mike then spoke to the several hundred people in attendance and shared his testimony and what Nick meant to him.
Saying again, “Nick, you’re my hero!”
Mike, we love you and Koren so much!!! You have shown a simple mom that there truly is love and purpose to the NFL that supercedes all fame and fortune and statistics!!! You have made me love football in a way I never did before!!! Thank you!! You truly have earned the name….
A WIDE RECEIVER WHO GIVES!!!!
We were suppose to go to Detroit again on Thanksgiving Day of this past year…….
The Lions were playing the Titans (Nick’s favorite team!), but we had to cancel our plans because Nick was so weak….little did we know that that would be the last football game Nick would ever get to watch while on this earth.
It was almost as if Nick knew this was the last thing he really cared to be a part of on this planet. He pushed himself physically to watch the whole game. However, within an hour of it being over, Nick fell to sleep and never woke up again. He passed away just a day and a half later. Just typing this is so hard for me. We miss him so much.
So much has happened in the past two and half years.
Betsy and Frank live everyday with two beautiful special needs children….smiling through every high and every low.
Mike and Koren have started a branch of Basket of Hope in Columbus, Ohio. Alicia, Koren’s sister, is the director, and their program is doing great!!!
We began the Nicholas Yancy Nischan Foundation immediately after losing our precious Nick.
We are partnering with the Mike Furrey Foundation!
This is me and a group of wonderful people from our community who have come together from many different churches and organizations to start the new branch of…..
Basket of Hope!!
I say all of this to say this:
God is working………..even when things might not make sense at the time. Trust Him. Live for Him in spite of the pain. Eventually those little glimmers of something more beautiful will begin to sparkle in the corner of your eyes even if the glimmer is still in your tears.
I love you all so much.
February 27th, 2009
February 26th, 2009
February 25th, 2009
I’m just missing Nick, but oh, so happy that he is HOME with Adrienne!!!
What a wonderful day they must be having!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, thank you, Lord, for the hope of Heaven!
1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling
February 25th, 2009
Sunday night my son Evan and I watched the Academy Awards. I have to be honest. I have never in my life sat through the entire event. I’m not even sure if I have ever watched any portion of it “live” before in my life!
But for some reason, Evan turned it on and since I knew he would be heading back to college the next morning, I decided to sit and watch it with him.
We had such a good time!
Evan and I share a very similar sense of humor, so we got such a kick out of so many things that were happening during the night. From the movie star’s clothes to their comments to the way they held their heads…..
Even the hosts were making us laugh.
I know. We were probably not taking the whole event seriously enough.
After all, the manner in which the stars received their little golden figurines and said, “thank you,” made me think that maybe they had just received a Nobel Peace Prize for discovering something that could make this world a better place for generations to come!!
I guess I just kept wondering, “What does God think about this event?” “Does He care?” “Is He impressed?”
From a mere tv-watcher’s perspective, it sure seemed like “anybody” who is “anybody” should have been there.
Wearing the right clothes.
Walking with the right person.
If you watched it, you know just what I’m talking about!
The sad part is that before the program was even over, yahoo was already putting out headlines about mistakes, blunders, poorly-chosen dresses……..
Even the most “impressive” people of this world seem to fall short of “impressing” everyone.
So tonight as I sat here knowing that I leave early in the morning to sub at the high school (oh, please pray for me!), I knew that if I wanted to say anything I’d have to say it tonight……
and my mind wandered to my memories of the Academy Awards and how hard those stars work to impress people who are so easily unimpressed.
Then, of course, I had this urge to see what the Bible says about the word, “impress,” and guess what I found out.
The word “impress” is ONLY in the NIV version of the Bible one time in its root form!!!
And listen to how it is used!
So, as I head to the high school tomorrow, I’m definitely not expecting a red carpet entry!
But I will have this thought in the back of my mind all day,
Not that He calls me to impress even Him……He just calls me and you to share His love with others.
Thankful to have an audience of One! An audience of grace and mercy,
February 24th, 2009
I realized that this tube of toothpaste was going to be used, and used, and used, and used, and,
you guessed it-
….until I threw it away!
Honestly, it’s like the empty roll on our toilet paper holder…….noone else has ever taken the time to read the manual on how a new roll of paper is added. I have watched an entire roll of toilet paper be used while sitting on top of the empty cardboard tube of the last roll and just been amazed that everyone else in my house thinks this is “normal!”
But that’s a whole other story….
This tube of toothpaste has begun to fascinate me, really.
I still manage to squeeze out just enough to brush my teeth one more time….
And amazingly so does Tim (and who knows who else slips in our bathroom and does the same thing!)
Noone has complained yet about this tube’s lack of resources. It’s as if just enough toothpaste arrives to get us through another day!
And the more I look at this tube, the more I realize that in many ways this is how you live when you’re grieving and really when you’re simply trying to live for Christ during a difficult time in your life.
One “squeeze” at a time. Not really feeling stocked up on much of anything.
Actually feeling fairly empty. As if life has literally been squeezed right out of you.
But then, somehow, God in His amazing wisdom knows the secret to making our empty tube of toothpaste somehow still have worth.
Somehow still provide just enough strength to do what we need to do for one more day.
There’s so many days when I would much rather pull the covers over my head and sleep my way through life.
But, oh, I am so thankful for a Father who tells me that He can provide the strength I need for one more day!!!
Eventually, I believe, that he will restore my “tube!” As if through a divine run to Wal-Mart, God will place a “new tube” of strength within me….and within Tim.
But for now, I have to keep on allowing God to squeeze daily just enough strength from me to keep me going!
And I’m trusting that He can and will.
Because once again, I believe His Word is true!
10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
Oh, thank you, Jesus!
12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
With the strength God has given me for today…..with yet another squeeze on my very pitiful “tube,” I end my thoughts with a question Jesus asked Martha in John 11:26,
February 23rd, 2009
February 21st, 2009
28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Last summer a friend and I were given the opportunity to take Todd, Nick, and one of their best friends, Caleb, to the beach for a week. This trip was a gift from a man whom we never met….only spoke to on the phone. And it was as much a gift to my friend as it was to me and my boys. Just a time to slip away from everything that had been going on in both of our lives and sit on the beach and read, pray, talk, and watch the boys have fun.
On the way we drove through a horrible storm. It was one of those moments in time when you want to stop but at the same time you want to keep going so that you can hopefully “drive out of the storm!”
Finally, the sky became clear and the feeling of relief flooded our bodies…..especially mine….
with hands gripping tight to the steering wheel.
As we celebrated no more torrential rain, thunder, and lightning, we noticed in front of us the most perfect rainbow arching from one side of the interstate to the othe-you could see the rainbow perfectly from one end to the other (I remembered it as a double rainbow, but when I went back to look at pictures I realized it was just a beautifully complete single rainbow!!)
It was gorgeous, and my friend began snapping pictures as we drove along. We passed several cars that had actually stopped along the interstate to do the same thing!
In my heart I felt such warmth. I even felt that this could be a promise from God that if we could just keep pressing on in the “storm” of Nick’s cancer (which even on this trip we were heavily in the midst of with Nick being in back pain and his neurosurgeon encouraging us to “go ahead and enjoy the week at the beach”) that He would be there on the other side-full of promise and hope. Just like the double rainbow.
Well, we had a wonderful week at the beach! We soaked up the sun, putt-putt golf, ice cream shops, fun restaurants, playing in the waves, reading on the shore, video games, everything we could think of!
But, as you know, the worse was still ahead of us in Nick’s fight and little did we know that the very next week Nick would have his most devastating MRI up to that point and that from that moment on Nick would slowly get sicker and sicker.
A couple of weeks ago, I was driving Olivia to church for basketball practice and we were driving in a downpour coupled with heavy winds. This weather was following a terrible ice storm and lots of snow just a week or so before.
Olivia said, “Do you think Nick is responsible for this extreme weather?” I kind-of laughed and said, “If he could be, he is. Give them lots of ice, snow, wind, rain! I can just hear Nick saying that!”
As I got home and began doing some things around the house, my phone began to ring. First Roxy, then Brandon, then Martha, then someone else……..all telling me to look outside.
There was a double rainbow!!! It was beautiful!! I felt that the “extreme rainbow” was just another way Nick could be saying “hi!” and God could be saying, ‘My promises are still true!”
Well, this week passed, and as you know if you have walked it with me, it has been everything for me spiritually….
dark and doubting
bright and reawakening
On Wednesday evening I was finishing one of the books I was reading while the kids were at youth group and at the end the author had a beautiful prayer and then wrote the words, “take time to sing praise to God asking Him to make Himself known to You at this very time.”
So, I did.
I was home all alone.
Who would ever know?
I closed my eyes and began to sing out loud some of my favorite worship songs.
As I ended this time with God, I looked down at my cell phone and noticed a voice mail. I decided to listen to it just in case it was one of the kids and it was one of Olivia’s friends saying, “Tammy, look at the double rainbow.” I thought surely this hadn’t been on my phone all week as I had had lots of voice mails since then, so I called her mom to ask about it.
She told me that “yes” in fact there had been a beautiful double rainbow that very afternoon.
Noone had called me. Noone had told me. I asked several other people and sure enough it was a beautiful, beautiful double rainbow around the same time as the week before! I knew deep inside that for some reason God didn’t want me to know about it until the end of my praise time on that evening…..it was another message from Him to me and the timing had to be after the promise not during.
As I sat there thinking about what in the world the significance might be of these double rainbows coming just a week apart, I realized that the first one was on February 11th and the second one was 7 days after the first.
I felt immediately the most amazing peace. God was giving me his nickname back through double rainbows!!!!! And this all happened on the same day as the “hummingbird/sparrow story and the feather!”
What a day of promises!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thankful for a God who speaks in ways I can hear!
Love to all of you,
February 19th, 2009
Anyway, in one chapter he shares the story of a family at his church who was facing the death of their baby who had a brain tumor. He tells of the morning when he received the call that their baby had died. It was very early when he left his house to meet the couple at the hospital and as he was driving he noticed something in the road and felt that he should stop to see what it was.
“Not one of them falls to the ground apart from Your Father’s will….Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than any sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29,31)
He knew that this was no accident and that the manner and condition in which he found the bird was too unusual to not be a message from God that He held this family and their precious baby in His hands.
I don’t remember the month, but I know it was near a time when we had received news from the doctors that there was really nothing else they could do for Nick and we had been told to “enjoy every day with him.” It was during a time when walking by faith was absolutely all we could do. There was no earthly physician to help us…..the Great Physician was in total control.
I was walking from our back yard to the front when I stepped on something. I didn’t look down. I really didn’t give it much thought. I just went on to the car to get whatever it was I getting. As I came back into the back yard, I looked down to see what it was and was horrified to see that a tiny, very newly hatched baby bird had fallen from a nest above and I had stepped on it. I cannot even put into words the emotions that I felt in that instance. How could I have been so careless? I was so sad. I didn’t mean to take that baby bird’s life.
And then, suddenly, I felt peace and fear at the same time.
At the same time, I felt fear because I knew that just as the baby bird had somehow fallen from his nest and his life had been taken accidentally by me that in this oh-so-terribly-imperfect-and-fallen world that things like this happen.
Baby birds sometimes die.
And so I was overcome with the reality that the Great Physician was saying to me, “Nick might die, Tammy. I still care.”
While walking to our cars, Kathy jokingly said (because her car is white and Jennifer’s van is white) that Nick’s foundation should have a “white theme” with vehicles! We laughed thinking of Mary Kay’s pink cars and then headed on to load the van. After we opened the door of the van, Kathy opened the foundation’s file box to put a folder in it when the wind blew and Jennifer said, “A feather just flew out of there!” She went running into the grass past several cars and FOUND the small, white feather that she had watched fly out of the file box and into the air!! We stood there in amazement. God had spoken so strongly through the hummingbird and then Kathy had shared about the color white, and we simply didn’t know what to do with ourselves except take a minute to just say, “Praise God!”
February 18th, 2009
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So I close by saying, “thank you.” I know that people were praying for me today, because I smiled and laughed my way through my first day of subbing back at the middle school with all of Nick’s friends. I hugged so many of his 8th grade buddies. I felt their love for Nick and for me.