My heart is absolutely broken today and I really lack words that come close to touching all that’s on my mind. Sweet Louie went to be with Jesus. I’m angry and I’m sad and I’m so confused. But I’m so incredibly blessed and honored to know this sweet boy and his precious family.
I’ve shared Louie’s story before a few times and how I was so honored when Laura and Josh allowed me to capture these precious memories for them. When Louie was first diagnosed, just days after his second birthday, it shook my world. Even though I didn’t know Laura that well, my mommy heart ached for her. Louie and my Cam are only six weeks apart and we were pregnant at the same time. Laura teaches at the studio where my daughter takes dance lessons and that’s how we originally met. As Louie spent time at CHKD going through treatment and recovery, I followed along on Facebook as this amazing story unfolded. So many times I wanted to send her a message to say if she ever wanted pictures just to let me know and I would be there. I could never work up the nerve (some things just seem so silly) but she posted that they’d never gotten Louie’s 2nd birthday pictures done and was anyone available to come to the hospital to take them. (At least that’s what I think it said. Honestly, I didn’t finish reading the whole post before I feverishly sent her a message! It was truly a God thing!) We met up in a little grassy patch outside of CHKD in Norfolk and captured some of the sweetest smiles I’ve ever seen. That was the first time I met Louie and I knew he was a fighter. I knew he was tough and he would never give up. And I knew I’d never be the same after meeting him.
I was able to meet up with the Vanderslice family a few more times throughout this journey – when baby Lennon arrived, before Louie started chemo again when the cancer returned last fall, and most recently last Christmas Eve. To say it’s an honor to help this family tell their story is an understatement. That face brings me and SO MANY others so much joy. His smile will brighten up any room and you can’t help but laugh when you’re with him.
I struggle with not only what to say but what to feel. I’m left with so many questions about why this happened and how this is part of God’s plan. Some questions I don’t think we’ll ever know the answer to, at least on this side of Heaven. But what’s clear is that this little boy, this baby, and his amazing family have touched so many lives and I belive have brought people closer to Jesus. Through the faith and testimony of his parents, though his courage and his strength, and through the kindness and generosity of strangers reaching out to the family, the love and hope of Jesus SHINES. There’s NO denying that.
I feel like God has laid two things on my heart today. I’m reminded of the story of David and Goliath. It’s Cam’s favorite story and he loves hearing it over and over again (we even have David and Goliath action figures and I’ve got to come up with a David costume for Halloween…). When I tell him that story, I like to remind him that God used David to do BIG things, even though he was little. You’re never too little to do big things for God. Louie was only a baby and his body was so sick, but God used that little boy to do BIG things. If God can use a little shepard boy or a bald little boy with cancer, what’s our excuse for not stepping up to the plate? Louie’s life is such a testament to God’s mighty power and His awesome love. He touched thousands and thousands of people all around the world. That smile! Those sweet laughs shared on facebook videos! All while a battle was raging in that little body. Louie faced the giant. The giant did not win. Our hearts are hurting here, but Louie is dancing with Jesus free from pain and sickness. That’s the second verse God showed me.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
God wins, guys. In the end, God wins. Today sucked. But God wins. He’s got this. My prayer is that He wraps his big Daddy arms around Louie’s family and hugs them tight in these rough days. There are so many hurting hearts today and I just pray that God will comfort those that are hurting and bring His peace that passes all understanding.
Josh and Laura, you guys are rockstars. You are such a testament to God’s glory and His faithfulness. We love you guys so much. You have an army of prayer warriors behind you ready to support you in any way you need. Thank you for sharing this sweet boy with the rest of the world. Louie’s story is far from over. He’s still sending big waves into motion. His story has shown so many what hope looks like and how big God’s love really is. And his journey has brought awareness to issues that people don’t know about and don’t want to talk about. Pediatric cancer takes the lives of thousands of children every year and yet only receives 4% of government funding for cancer research. These children, our children, deserve more than 4%. For ways you can get involved or for more information about childhood cancer research, I urge you to check out The Truth365.
Louie’s Celebration of Life will be on Friday at Community Church and I was thinking how awesome it would be if on Friday we could all do three random acts of kindness, one for each year of Louie’s life. Can you image those big waves on the ocean? It’s all about spreading love and showing people how awesome our God is. You’re never too little to do big things for God.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start with your random act of kindness, please consider donating to St. Baldrick’s and help fight childhood cancer. Laura is going to be shaving her head later this month (yes, for reals) to honor Louie. Cancer’s a big a scary giant, but our God’s bigger. And He uses us to do big things.
Fly high, sweet boy. Give Jesus a big fist bump for me.
You can follow Louie’s journey on Facebook and Instagram by searching for #TeamSlice432.