Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rye Hill Baptist News

We received our church newsletter in the mail today. I just have to share Bro. Mike's article with you.

The only word that comes to mind right now is “Amazing”! We had been rocking right along this summer having a great time with our best attendance, offerings, Children’s and Youth Camps, and Vacation Bible School ever! God, in His sovereignty, completely interrupted our world with a situation that nobody saw coming. On Saturday, August 7th, 2010, the age of five, our sweet little Leightyn Nan Holmes, went to be with our Lord. For two days the Holmes and I clung to Romans 8:28 for comfort and strength. What we didn’t know was that God had a plan for the Holmes’ family that would change our church and people’s lives forever. I can honestly say that in the five short years that we had Leightyn, she influenced and affected more lives than most adults will in their life time! What Satan meant for bad, God has used for good. Her life song, her parents, the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit has brought true revival to our church family. Landen and Missy have been unbelievable! Just 18 hours after Leightyn went to Heaven they were in church testifying about the wonderful grace of our Jesus. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. In 52 years of living and 30 years in the ministry, I have never seen such faith and strength demonstrated in a Christian couple’s life. To God be the glory! At Leightyn’s homecoming celebration we saw our building filled to capacity with standing room only and 21 people gave their hearts to Jesus Christ. We have seen 10 more professions of faith these past two weeks and many rededications. Sunday, the glory of the Lord fell; we had a 25 minute invitation with 15 recorded decisions. We also had 184 in Sunday School and 252 in Worship! God is so good (all the time) and our cup runneth over! We will baptize 8 this coming Sunday. Praise be, after Sunday it will make our baptismal waters moving for 7 straight weeks! Hallelujah! There have been 73 memorials given in Leightyn’s memory for a total of $26,723.00. Leightyn’s legacy will live on for years and years to come! Tears of joy, peace that passes all understanding, plus true obedience to the Holy Spirit has been present at every Worship Service. Thank you Landen, Missy and Mylea Holmes for sharing this precious angel with us who greatly inspired us and lived life to it’s fullest. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will continue to comfort you in the days ahead, God will use Leightyn’s life song for years to come, and He will also use Landen and Missy to help others that will go through the same challenging situation of life. May God bless you and we promise that Leightyn will live in our hearts forever.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Faith of a Child

I am still working on Leightyn's service blog....but I had to share this email I received this weekend. Leightyn, Mylea, and I are part of an amazing MOPS group. We have weekly playdates during the summer. This past Wednesday we played at the park. This email is from a MOPS Momma. As I read it, I could picture these two sweet girls in the swing.

So I didn't tell you this on Wednesday, and I wasn't sure whether to or not, but I feel like you would want to hear it. While we were at the park, Heidi and Vivi were swinging next to each other and I was pushing both of them, and
Vivi turned to Heidi and said, "You know our friend Leightyn?"
Heidi said, "Yep, I miss her"
Vivi, "I miss her too but she lives with Jesus now."
Heidi, "Yep, and we will play with her when we are old"
Vivi, "She likes living with Jesus, do you want to slide?"

And then they were off. It was the sweetest conversation, and the faith of a child is truly amazing.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Letter From Daddy

Dear Lei Lei,

I cant believe that it is going on one month! One month since I saw you, one month since I heard your sweet voice, one month since we chased each other around the house, one month since i tickled you, one month since i had a kiss, one month since i heard your laugh, one month since i saw your smile, one month since you rolled your eyes at me, one month since i heard "let me pick out", one month since i came home from work a got a hug, one month since you would sit outside with me in the mornings, one month since my heart has been broken, one month since our family has been complete, one month since our lives were changed forever. Words cant even begin to express how much i miss having you around. I seem so lost at times. There are times when i just cant believe that you are gone. Me and mommy are trying our best to keep in good spirits, and we want so badly for people to remember you and keep your memory alive. We took Mylea to the fair and it broke my heart not seeing you riding the rides with her. I know that you loved going to the fair. We see Sara riding her bike outside and I cant help but to think of you everytime. how much you loved riding your bike on the road. you thought you were sooo big. We sang Jesus Loves Me this morning at church, and it was tough. I loved listening to you sing songs at bedtime. I sit and think about the stories that you would have told us about school and all of the things you would have learned, and friends you would have made. I wish I could have taken it all away, but I know it wasn't part of His will. I know it is all part of His bigger and perfect plan, but it is still hard, and sometimes i truly don't completely understand, but i still trust Him. You wouldn't believe the impact that your little life has made on people in this city, in this state and across the nation (i would like to think). I never truly understood how blessed i was to have you as my daughter, and i am sorry. I love you so much. I heard a song last night that said "I cant wait to see your smiling face, I cant wait to see you and your sister play, i cant wait to see you dance ....... but I just have to wait"

Oh Lei, i cant wait to see you again.

Love You.

CUWIGT! (C U When I Get There)


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Always Sunny In Here"

I know this blog is out of order, but I couldn't wait to tell the carmex story and now this story. I will try to get back in order tomorrow.

August 3, 2010

Leightyn asked to do schoolwork while Mylea was napping. Usually schoolwork is done in a certain order (numbers, letters, name, reading new words, and then cutting or crafts). This Tuesday, she really wanted to work on her cutting and that was all. She found her cutting book and then picked out a sun.

She quickly brought it to me when she finished. I was impressed with her straight lines and that the paper was not torn. This was (without a doubt) the best cutting project she had ever done.
Leightyn couldn't wait for her daddy to get home so she could show off her work.
When Landen walked in the door, Leightyn quickly grabbed her sun and went straight to daddy. She asked Landen if she could tape it to the fan in the living room. I said "to the fan" and Leightyn replied "Then it will always be sunny in here". We got some tape and taped the sun to the fan cord. She was excited to see her sun hanging in the "sky".

"Always Sunny In Here".....
Three days after the sun was hung, Leightyn went home to her Heavenly Father. As we sit in disbelief, stunned, and in tears....there is the sun...still shining.
No matter how much we hurt. No matter how heartbroken we are. No matter the emotions we are going through......
Leightyn wanted it to "always be sunny".

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nothing Normal About This Evening

August 10, 2010

Gut Wrenching Tears
Elevator Music
Quiet Conversations

Those are the words that I would use to describe a visitation.

Constant Line
Sharing Memories
Praise and Worship Songs
Up Lifting

These are the words that I would use to describe Leightyn's visitation.

Visitation was scheduled from 5-8 pm at the Edwards Funeral Home Chapel. People started showing up at 4:45. There was a constant line out the chapel doors until 7:50. Several times that evening, the line was outside the building waiting to come in.

Talk about overwhelming!

All of these people came to see my sweet Leightyn. All of these people came to encourage us. To share memories with us. To pray to us. To tell how Leightyn's story has changed them.

There were people there that I (or the family) had never met. A couple (whom we had never met) drove down from Rogers...just to give me a hug. WOW!

Groups of people came to see us. My old teaching buddies were there. The majority of this group is no longer at the same school. But yet, there there together for me. My awesome mops mommas were there. They came to laugh, cry, and encourage me. Our church group was there. They offered their shoulder to cry on and promises of continuing prayers.

I remember how I was drawn to Leightyn. I just couldn't take my eyes off her. I spent the entire evening next to her little body talking to people. Listening to their words. To their stories.

I heard stories of how families had gotten closer. Stories of parents who learned to be there for their kids more. Stories of moms who thought their playgroup was over. Only to find out that God provided for this group....in more ways than every expected. Stories of hurt relationships now moving on....together.

This was not a usual visitation.

I remember when the evening was over. People were still there and we finally had to clear out the room so the funeral home could close. As we looked at the guest books, I realized how many people had been there for us. Two guest books were filled up with names from that evening. We would need to add more pages for the funeral. I was speechless.

My Lei Babe.....she touched so many people.

Her last 24 hours here on earth, changes lives and hearts forever!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

One Word.....Beautiful

August 10, 2010

Today was the dreaded day. Landen and I honestly believed that visitation would be much worse than the funeral.

My mom wanted to go see Leightyn before visitation. I tagged along with her. I took pictures (lots of pictures....big and small) to place in the chapel lobby. I wanted people to see Leightyn in her happy times. To see how much Leightyn loved life. To see how she lived her life to the fullest.

My mom went to see Lei, but I couldn't. I just wasn't ready. I sat in the lobby trying to pump myself up to go inside. I got enough energy to stand up. I mustered up enough courage to walk to the door and look through the window. There in the front of the chapel was a beautiful pink casket. It was so tiny. Caskets should not come that small. I decided that it was time to go in. I had to see her before the crowd arrived that evening. Slowly, I took one step, at a time, down the aisle. I kept my head focused down. I wasn't ready to see her. In my mind, it was all still a bad dream. My baby wasn't really gone. My baby wasn't "sleeping" in the pink casket. My baby didn't have a tumor. It didn't seem possible.

As I got to the front of the chapel, I still couldn't look at Lei. I asked mom if she looked good. I was worried about the shaven part of her head. I was worried that Leightyn's head would be bruised. I was afraid that she would look like her make-up was painted on. I was afraid her dress would be to big. I was afraid her casket would be to big for her.

But, there she was. My baby was beautiful!. Her hair bow covered the evidence of her drain tube. Her make-up was perfect. The dress fit perfect. She even had her Belle doll to sleep with. But there she was.....it really made me realize that my baby was in that casket. Everything that had happened in the last 48 hours was not a bad dream. Leightyn really was in Heaven singing with Jesus.

I don't even remember crying. I couldn't take my eyes of her. She was absolutely beautiful. She looked like a doll.....a real baby doll. I just stood by her side, staring at her beautiful face.

She was my beautiful baby!

Please God.....Show Me A Sign

August 9, 2010

I will never forget the story that I am fixing to tell. It was Monday afternoon. Landen and I had gone to the funeral home that morning to make arrangements. Bro. Mike was on his way to our house to plan Leightyn's service. My mom and I had just finished writing Lei Lei's obituary. I was sitting at the kitchen table while my mom quickly retyped the obituary. We had a deadline to get it sent in and it was down to the wire.

Mylea had gone to Chuck E Cheese that morning. We knew that she needed a fun day and also needed to get out of the "sad" house. While I was still at the table, Mylea walked in the front door with something in her hands. She loves to hide things in her hand and tell us that she has "nufing". It's her favorite game!

As Mylea walked up to me, Uncle Lloyd told her to show me what was in her hand. She handed me a tube of Carmex. Now, if you know me, you know that I am addicted to Carmex. I told Mylea "thank you for getting me some Carmex". Uncle Lloyd told Mylea to tell me where she found it. Mylea replied "in the flowers". He then asked Mylea who put the Carma in the flowers. Mylea's reply was "sissy".

As I looked at the Carmex, my breath was taken away. The Carmex was strawberry. I absolutely can not stand strawberry carmex. Leightyn loved strawberry carmex. I asked Mylea where she found it. Once again, Mylea's reply was "in the flowers". That very morning, I pulled weeds from the flower bed. I never saw the Carmex.

Sunday night and Monday morning, I cried out to God to give me a sign. I was so upset that I had not yet seen Leightyn in my dreams. I usually have Lei or My in my dreams every night. I wanted to know that Leightyn was ok. I knew she was.....but me, being human, wanted to know that Leightyn was ok. I prayed that God would give me a sign. To be honest, I didn't have the faith that I would see a sign.

But I did, my sign was Leightyn's strawberry carmex that Mylea found in the flowers.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Letter From Momma

August 19, 2010
My precious Lei Babe,

I can't get you off my mind tonight. Nights are rough....it's hard to sleep knowing that my cuddle buddy is not going to be in my bed early in the morning asking to watch tv. Tomorrow it will be two weeks since our lives changed forever. Two weeks since I got to hold you. Two weeks since I heard you say "mom.....serious". Two weeks since I have heard singing and laughing in the car. Two weeks since I have played "The Clue Game" and "I Spy With My Little Eyes" on the way to the store. It's only been two weeks, but it seems like two years.

Today you would have started kindergarten. Your daddy and I have been completely lost today. We have always talked about you going to school. You couldn't wait to start. You were so excited when your Dr. told you that you would be the smartest kid in your class. You had your new outfit picked out. Your backpack and supplies ready to go. We had plans to take you to IHOP for breakfast this morning. We planned to pray together every morning in the car while waiting to be dropped off. We had planned on letting you be "sick" some days so we could have fun days. Daddy and I have wondered all day about the stories you would come home and tell. Would you like your teacher? How many new "best" friends would you have? What would be the best part of school? But instead of signing school papers this morning, your daddy and I had to go sign papers at the funeral home. Not something we ever planned on doing the first day of school.

Mylea misses you so much. She is lost without you. Uncle Lloyd, Daddy, and I took Mylea to McDonalds last week and she didn't play. She just walked around like she didn't know what to do. You were such a great big sister. You always took care of MyMy and made sure she wasn't far from you. At story time this week, Mylea wasn't sure where to sit. You always made sure that you sat on the exact same spot on the rug and Mylea would sit right next to you. Mylea wanted to go to ToysRUs to look at the cars and the bikes. It was a meltdown from the beginning. I think Mylea finally realized that you were gone. As I put her in bed tonight, Mylea gave me a big hug and said "Mommy, I wuv you. And I wuv my sissy". I told her that I loved Lei Lei also. Mylea just held on tight and told me over and over how much she loved you.

Oh Lei Babe, I wish I could have done something to protect you. I want you to know that your daddy and I are not mad at God. We know He has His reasons for needing you, but it doesn't make it any easier. As your parents, we are suppose to protect you, and we couldn't. The Drs. have said over and over that there was nothing that could have been done....even months ago when you had your first headache. We just wish we could see the bigger picture and we really wish it involved you being here on earth with us.

People are still talking about you. As long as they talk, I feel like you are here with us. It scares me to think that one day you might become a memory to people. I want your name, your memory, your sweet face to live forever.

Lei Lei, my heart is broken. Nothing will ever fill the hole I have in my heart. I am so lost without you. There are days that I don't think I can get out of bed. But I have to. I have to be strong for Mylea. Sometimes I want to break down and just lose it. But I have to be strong for others.

I dread the next 24 hours. If it is like last weekend, I will constantly be looking at a clock. Replaying those last 24 hours in my mind. I don't know if I will ever forget some of those images. When I walk by our bed, I automatically think of you laying there....not of us jumping on the bed, not of us pretending to be sleeping when Daddy got home, not of us cuddled up watching a movie. When I walk the driveway, I think of Uncle WeWe holding you and me begging you to wake up while waiting for the ambulance.....not of the many hours we spent outside chalking the driveway, not of you and Mylea in the bounce around, not of you riding your bike, scooter and car. I see you in the hospital bed. No mother should have to see their child like that. I see all your friends and family singing praises to God....even in our darkest hour.

And that's what we are going to do Leightyn Nan! We are going to keep praising God. God will get the victory....not Satan. Your daddy and I feel honored to be your parents. God could have chosen any one, but instead, He chose us. You are my girl. I will brag on you until the day that I die. You, my little angel, have changed many lives and many hearts. Your visitation and funeral were a testimony to the impact you have made on others. So many people came to see you and came to see you to your Heavenly home. Daddy and I never expected the crowds we saw. We never expected hundreds of emails and calls. There are people who don't know us and ,who never met you here on earth, that are writing us telling how you have changed them. God has used you to work miracles.

So Lei Lei, as I sit here tonight, lost in my thoughts with tears streaming down my face, I want you to know that I love you and I miss you.


Reality Sets In

Leightyn Nan Holmes

Leightyn Nan Holmes, 5 of Fort Smith went to sing and dance with Jesus on Saturday, August 7, 2010. She changed the world when she was born on July 5, 2005. She was a member of Rye Hill Baptist Church where she was active in AWANAS, choir, Sunday school, and church camp.
Celebration of Leightyn's life will be 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, August 11, at Rye Hill Baptist Church in Fort Smith with burial at Lovelace Cemetery in Witcherville under the direction of Edwards Funeral Home.
This precious gift from God was given to Landen and Melissa Holmes. She will be greatly missed by her best friend, mini-me, pea in a pod sister Mylea Holmes. Close to her heart were her loving grandparents "Buddy" Robert and "Jo" Bearden of Fort Smith, "Papaw" Linden Holmes of Hot Springs, and "Memaw" Janis Wagner of Clarksville. Spoiling her were her Uncle Nigel Bearden, "Tuncle" Lloyd Holmes, and "Janta" Janna Holmes. Also dear to her heart were many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
Leightyn was greeted at heavens gates by her great grandparents Hoyt and "Sissy" Nancy Gordon, Grandma Betty Haynes, Rev. Glen and "Nannie" Ann Wagner, and Lloyd and "Grannie" Lucille Holmes.
Walking Leightyn to her final resting place will be Uncle Nigel Bearden, "Tuncle" Lloyd Holmes, Josh Gordon, "Jon Jon" Jonathan Gordon, "Mr. Tad" Chad Edwards, and "Uncle WeWe" William Wagner. Honorary pallbearers will be Uncle Bill Chandler, "Bette's Daddy" Orville Bittle, Uncle Bill Gordon, "Turtis" Curtis Martin,...

Honorary pallbearers will be Uncle Bill Chandler, "Bette's Daddy" Orville Bittle, Uncle Bill Gordon, "Turtis" Curtis Martin, Logan Edwards, Marcus McGill, Ryan Gillis, and Rye Hill children and youth.

Visitation will be Tuesday, August 10, 2010, at Edwards Funeral Home in Fort Smith from 5:00-8:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Rye Hill Baptist Church children's ministry or building fund, 11512 Old Hwy. 71 South, Fort Smith, AR 72916.

Changes in Landen

The following post was written by Landen on August 8, 2010

Well, as most of you know it has been such a roller coaster ride over the past few days (and many days to come). It is so hard to believe that our precious little Lei Lei is not with us anymore. You all dont know how much your prayers, kind... words, encouragement, and support have meant to us. We will love her always and never forget her. I want you all to know that even though we all prayed for a miracle healing, it wasnt part of God's will, but that doesnt mean that there weren't other miracles. So dont be discouraged, and ask Why God? It is one thing to say "God, Your will be done", but it is totally another thing to believe it and accept it.
With that being said I would like to share my personal testimony, in hopes that God may be glorified, and maybe, just maybe it will help at least one other person come to Christ. (maybe someone who is going through the same)
I have always gone to church for as long as I can remember, I was saved at my Poppa's house when I was seven years old. However, even though I "believed" in Jesus and the cross, and his redemption. I didnt fully understand what it meant to be a true / authentic Christian, and live my life for Him. I continued to be involved in church, (church camps, choir tours), but as I got older, it was like I went to church because I was "suppose to".
As I got into high school, I didnt have the passion and desire to stand out for him, I was more worried about fitting in, and what people thought about me. Then on into college, I found myself falling even further from God and church, and eventually got envolled in things that I told myself I never would.
About three years ago, with the help of my pastor and my wonderful wife. I began to get my life back on track that it had derailed from so many years ago. I got into Gods word, involved more in church and He began to transform me into the godly man that I desire to be. For years now (on and off) I have not know one hundred percent that if I were to die or if Jesus returned, that i would spend eternity with Him.
Now that I was so envolved in church, (teaching sunday school class, youth, awanas, and yes even a Deacon) I was once again too worried what people would think if walked the isle to make sure that I know Him. Pride! I even tried talking myself into believing my own salvation.
There are some scriptures that kept comming to my mind.
#1 "even the deamons believe and tremble James 2-9"
#2 "as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" James 2-26
#3 ""Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 24 41-46
On aug 7 2010, outside of Arkansas Chrildrens Hospital, I ask Christ to come into my life once and for all, knowing that he is my all in all, and I want to be a better Christian, husband, dad, brother, uncle, son, son-in-law. Now i know that i know, and I feel so much better because of that. Its tough not knowing 100% if you would spend eternity with God. 99% sure is not enough!!! I thank Him for second chances, for all my many blesisngs for my little angel who is now in heaven with Him and knowing that one sweet glorious day, i will spend eternity with Him and praising and worshiping His name, and see my family members and baby girl again!!!

God Bless!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 1 Of Our New Life

August 8, 2010
We didn't sleep much. Lots of thoughts going through our heads. Lots of emotions. Lots of replaying the last few days in our mind. What just happened?
We were up early...really early. Landen and I just walked around the house like zombies. Landen pulled out the video camera and we watched Leightyn running around the house and being silly just 3 days earlier. Landen turned on the tv and "My Savior Loves, My Savior Lives" was playing. That was Leightyn's favorite song. We just lost it. We turned the tv up loud and attempted to sing through our tears.
We got dressed for church and made it there just before the service started. Walking in, without Leightyn, was hard. The sanctuary was already full by the time we arrived. As we walked down the aisle to our seat (on the front row), I lost it. I cried. Church members cried. There wasn't a dry eye in the building and the service hadn't even started yet.
Bro Mike got up and said a few things about Leightyn. I just cried. I don't remember a word he said. I just sat and cried. During the songs, I cried. As hard as I tried to sing....I just couldn't get a word out. During the welcome, we were surrounded by many hugs and words spoken. I love our church family. You could tell that every person in that church was experiencing our lost. Leightyn had a place in all of their hearts. She had touched each and every one of them. Back to the welcome...it usually goes about a minute. Well, not that morning. The welcome continued and continued and continued. We made it through the crowd and it healed a tiny part of my broken heart.
Bro Mike got up to start his sermon. He gave a short overview of our weekend in Fort Smith and Little Rock. When he finished, Landen and I went up to give our testimony of the weekend. Landen talked for a few minutes before I gave a summary of the last month and of the weekend. I only planned on speaking for a few minutes. But apparently I lost track of time. When I finished talking, Landen said "can I talk now?". It was good to have a little laugh in the midst of this battle. We continued to tell how we trusted God through every event. How we were going to praise Him in this storm. How we knew that God could have performed a miracle but instead He has something bigger planned. We encouraged parents to hold their babies tighter, to make more time for their children, to pray as a family, and to live as a Godly family.
When we finished talking (there definitely was not a dry eye in the building), Bro Mike asked people to come forward that would continue to pray for us, that would keep encouraging us, that would be there for us every step we took. I am pretty sure that every one came forward. I could not see any bodies in the pews. It was a very overwhelming moment.
After praying, Bro Mike went in to the invitation. That Sunday, there were 3 salvations and (I forgot how many) rededications. People came forward wanting to commit to being better parents, better witnesses for God.
All because of Leightyn!

What About Mylea Jo??

August 7, 2010

The ride home was long and silent. We were all in shock. Our lives had changed so drastically in 24 hours. I fell asleep around Conway and woke up in Van Buren. I wouldn't say that I slept ... more like I was so tired that my eyes couldn't stay awake any longer.

I dreaded being at home. How was I going to walk in my front door? Leightyn is written all over my house. There are pictures, clothes, schoolwork, toys...everywhere!! How would I live in this house without always seeing her unconscious in my bed and in the drive-way waiting on the ambulance? To this day, I don't know if I will be able to live here forever....it just seems to hard.

When we pulled down our street (around 11:30pm), I felt like I had just hit a brick wall. Our house was full of friends and family. They were just waiting on us to get home. As I got out of the car, Mylea came up to me. I hugged her as tight as I could. She asked "Where's sissy?". Landen told her that "Lei Lei had gone to be with Jesus". I cried as he told Mylea her sister was gone. Mylea began patting me on the back and said "it's ok, it's ok mommy". God had prepared Mylea for this. She knew (in her own way) that Leightyn was with Jesus.

Later that night (or early Sunday morning) as we were getting ready for bed, Mylea made a comment about "my sissy sleeping with Jesus". Some time, early that morning, I was sitting in the computer room with Landen. We were both upset. Mylea walked in and asked "what was wrong". We told her "we were just sad". I'll never forget Mylea looking up with big eyes saying "me too...I miss my sissy". She asked why Leightyn was with Jesus. She wanted to know if she was sick. She asked if she was going to see Jesus. Then she wept. Not a little cry...but weeping. It was a gut wrenching cry that told us enough. She was so upset about Leightyn being gone.

We all wept together.

6:33 pm

August 7, 2010
As we finished our family meeting, Leightyn returned from the blood dye test. The Drs came in and (like they had already told us) said that the blood flow test was abnormal. This meant that there was no blood flowing to the brain. The Drs (once again) made it clear that they believed the 12 step test would still be abnormal tomorrow.
One by one, people went in Leightyn's room to say their final good-byes. Landen and I had our time alone with her. As I think about that time, it brings tears to my eyes. We told Leightyn how much we loved her, how much we were going to miss her, we were sorry for the times she wanted to play a game and we were to busy. We cried. This was our baby girl. Our firstborn. Our sweet Leightyn. She was no longer here with us. It didn't make sense, but we were going to keep on praising God.
While Landen and I were in the room, the PICU Dr came in and officially pronounced Leightyn brain dead at 6:33 pm. Talk about the wind being knocked out of you! It's one thing to know that she is gone and another thing to hear the DR make it official.
As our parents said their good-byes, Landen and I began talking to the organ donor representative. We wanted to donate all her organs to children in need. As we started the process, the representatives phone rang. After taking the phone call, the representative let us know that Leightyn was not able to be a donor. The test came back cancer. We were told that it was so bad that they were afraid that any organs placed would cause cancer in the new body. I was stunned! Our little Lei Lei was so sick and we had no clue. There were no signs to show how sick she was.
Since Leightyn couldn't be an organ donor, we had to take her off the breathing machine and let her "medically" go on. We were allowed to be in the room for this, but Landen, my brother, and myself chose not to be. My mom, dad, aunt, uncle and cousin chose to be in there for us.
As this was going on, a social worker came and talked with Landen and I . She was so scattered brained and I was on such an emotional low that I had to get up. I decided to go in Leightyn's room to see her once more.
I was shocked when I entered the room. The tubes were gone. It was so quick. Leightyn also was gone. Besides the family, there were 2 nurses and 3 Drs in the room. They were standing at respect for Leightyn. It was overwhelming. The nurses asked if I wanted to hold Leightyn and I said "I just can't do it". My mom said that she would hold her and rock her for me. To this day, I would give anything to hold her one more time. I just don't think I could have handled holding her right then...in that situation.
It was to much, being in the room, so I left. Landen and I went back to the family room and just sat in shock. How did we just say good-bye to our baby? Why was our baby gone? We wondered why God wanted her to go? How were we going to tell Mylea? How would we go on without our Lei Babe?
At this point, I was ready to just go home. I was drained (emotionally and physically). I wanted to see Mylea, to hold her, and to love on her. My mom, dad, and brother had their last minutes with Leightyn and they were ready to get us home. My aunt, uncle, and cousin stayed behind to be with Leightyn. I didn't know until later, that they were staying behind to wait on handprints and footprints of Leightyn. I still haven't seen them....but I will treasure them forever. I am so thankful the hospital thought of making a set of prints for us.
When we left, Leightyn's nurse (who was awesome) was rocking and singing to Leightyn. I believe (don't hold it to me) that she told my mom that she would stay with Leightyn until they came to get her. Talk about a nurse who went beyond her duty.
We got in the elevator and some how made it out the front doors without any breakdowns. We cried and wept in our hearts....how was our perfectly healthy baby gone? We were (and still are) heartbroken.

It was the start of our new chapter in life......

Monday, August 16, 2010

Getting Right With God......In A Hospital????

August 7, 2010
After Landen and I made the decision to let Leightyn go on to Heaven, we held a meeting to let our families know our decision. At first the meeting was only going to be us and our parents. At the last minute, we let all of our friends and family members sit in with us.
I will never forget the feeling I got standing in front of the room. Meeting like this should be held to share good news.....not news that your daughter is gone. Landen started by thanking every one for being here and for supporting us that last 24 hours. He then told everyone that we had decided that Leightyn wasn't with us and that it was time to let her go. We wanted to get home to Mylea. Since the Dr told us that the blood dye test was abnormal and he believed the next two 12 steps test would be abnormal, we had decided not to complete the 12 step test in six hours and in twelve hours. We wanted Leightyn to be an organ donor. In our minds, we could see a little blond hair blue eyes girl somewhere needed an organ to live. If we couldn't have our girl back, we wanted another family to have a chance at life. We even hoped that there was a child right there in Children's who was waiting on an organ.
After we made our announcement, there were tears ....tears....and more tears. Our baby really was gone. We would no longer be a family of 4. Mylea would no longer have her playmate. Instead of our baby starting school, we would be planning her funeral.
We believe that God could have done a complete miracle on Leightyn. We believe that he could have healed her completely. However, it wasn't His will. God gave us 5 years with Leightyn and now He was ready to have her home. We still believed that there would be a miracle...we just had to wait to see the big picture.
As we all sat in the room, lost in our thoughts, Landen's cousin (Wendy) spoke up. Wendy told every one that the last 24 hours had inspired her to do better. She wanted to be a better witness and to have more faith.
Unlce WeWe (William) stood and talked about how he was inspired by faith. He was inspired that we had given this all to God and were trusting in God.
Next thing I know, I hear "Amazing Grace". Lloyd K started singing ande every one else joined in. We had prayer (several prayers) that God would keep us strong and that God would use Leightyn to change heart and lives.

God answers prayer!!!!

Decision Time

August 7, 2010
Shortly after the team of neurologists met with us to deliver no good news, the PICU team held a meeting to discuss our options. We had the team meet with all our family and friends so that we didn't have to rely the message.
The PICU team talked about completing the 12 step test as soon as the meeting was over. Once the test was finished, Leightyn would be sent to radiology to do a blood flow test. Leightyn would be injected with dye to see if there was any blood flow going to the brain. The PICU team also would need to complete the 12 step test again in 6 hours and then again in 12 hours.
We (once again) asked what we could have done different in Leightyn's case. The Dr. said (over and over) that there was nothing we could have done. There were no signs. If the tumor would have been discovered, there was no treatment and no cure. The Drs even told us that they would have sent us home when Leightyn was throwing-up (thinking it was a virus).
The PICU team allowed people to be in the room as they completed the first 12 step test. Landen and I chose not to be in the room, but allowed every one else to be in the room. My only request was that they sang to Leightyn as the test was completed. I was still hoping for a miracle and thought that Leightyn would respond to the singing. My mom later told me that the songs were not the greatest.....more of an emotional mess.
After the test was complete, the PICU team came back and gave us the results. Leightyn didn't respond to anything. There were no signs of brain activity and no response to the different test. Leightyn was then sent to radiology to complete the dye test. The PICU team told us that they honestly believed the dye test would be abnormal. They also believed that the next two 12 step test would be abnormal.
Landen and I talked in the hallway about what we were then going to do. Do we wait around the hospital another 12 plus hours for two more 12 step test or do we let her go on to Heaven. We honestly believed she was already with Jesus. We believe that she wasn't there and it was to hard to sit in the room another day waiting for the Drs. to complete the test.
After talking, Landen and I decided that it was time to let Leightyn go. As hard as it was, there was no choice to make. If there is no blood flow, there is nothing left to do. We were ready to go home. We were drained....emotionally and physically. We talked about how hard it would be to wait another 12-24 hours..only to still have to make the same decision. We felt our time at the hospital was finished. We had no idea how we were going to walk out the front doors without Leightyn, but we knew that was our calling......our new chapter in life.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Waiting Game

August 7, 2010

Today was the day....the day that would determine our future.

We all knew that today's test would give us answers that we did or did not want to hear. The 12 step test to determine brain activity was scheduled for 8am.

8 am came and went
9 am came and went
10 am came and went
11 am came and I wanted to know where the team was and what was taking so long. The DRs were still doing rounds and would be there soon.
12 noon came and went
1 pm came and went
2 pm came and now I was really getting upset. We had been waiting 6 hours. Those 6 hours could have been spent in surgery but we still hadn't seen a Dr.

Sometime during the afternoon, we had another reason to have hope. Leightyn was still on the breathing machine. I was not aware that she was not attempting to take any breaths on her own. If she was making an attempt, there would be a purple line show up on the breathing machine. As we stood around the bed, we begged her to take a breath. We begged and pleaded and made her many promises if only she would take a breath.

There was a line.....a purple line.

We all cheered (like the Razorbacks had just become national champions). We kept on her....begging her to breath. At one point, Leightyn gave us 3 purple lines in a row. Here we go....Leightyn is working hard to breath. She's gonna make it. Leightyn was promised 10 or more cats if she would just breath. All the guys promised to paint their toe pink with polka dots....if she would just breath.

The respiratory therapist came in and checked the machine and took some notes. As he walked out, I asked if he could give us a smile or give us some good news. He (like every one else) said he had no good news. She wasn't breathing. She wasn't attempting to breath. His theory was that as we all got excited and cheered for her, someone was accidentally touching the breathing tube, causing it to move, causing the machine to think Leightyn was attempting a breath.

Talk about another punch to the heart. No one could give us a tiny piece of good news.

Around 3:00, the Neurologists team came by to tell us that there had been no changes in Leightyn's health. The Dr wasn't even sure that blood was flowing to her brain. There was no hope. There was nothing that could be done.

We still knew that our God was on the throne and that there was time for a miracle. We kept praying.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sing A Long

August 6, 2010

After Leightyn had been moved to the new room, there was at least one person with her at all times. We all stood around her bed, talking to her, rubbing her legs, and were constantly praying for a miracle. Landen and I began to pray for two things. If God wanted to take Leightyn home, we wanted her to go quickly and without pain. We also asked that our grandparents meet her at Heaven's gates so she wouldn't be scared. Our other prayer was that if God allowed her to stay here with us, we wanted her to be with us 100 percent. We wanted the Leightyn we knew and loved. We wanted her home with us loving life...not in a facility.
I will never forget that Friday evening. I remember the exact time. It was 11:24pm. I was the only one in the room with Leightyn. As I stood by her bed crying and begging God for a miracle, I decided to start singing to Lei. I went through our usual bedtime songs: Jesus Loves Me, The BIBLE, Jesus Loves the Little Children, Thankful Heart, and God Is Bigger Than The Boogie Man. During one of the songs, I noticed a little flinch. I thought my eyes were playing games and continued to sing. Lloyd walked in some minutes later and he sang with me. Lloyd also noticed a flinch. Janna and Amanda came to check on us and quickly joined in with the sing a long. We noticed that as we rubbed her sides, she would flinch and draw her shoulder in close to her side. This got me very very excited. I knew she was going to wake up at any moment and would start singing with us.
Within a matter of minutes, the nurse came to check on Leightyn's movement. She "tickled" Leightyn to watch her movement and checked her pupils. I never forget her response "Whatever you do, don't stop singing.....I'm going to get the DR". This really got me excited. All of the family member and friends joined us in the room. There were 20-25 of us standing around the bed singing every song we could think of. The faster the song, the more Leightyn responded. We sang Father Abraham, The Lord's Army, Jingle Bells, Deep and Wide, This Little Light of Mine, and many more.
Sometime during the singing, we were so loud that they had to close Leightyn's door and the door that led to the hallway. Nurse after nurse came to see what was going on in the room. Some sat in the hallway and sang with us. Leightyn's head nurse sat at her desk working, with tears streaming down her face, singing right along with us. I ran to the bathroom and could hear the group singing in the waiting area. There was a guy in the waiting area wanting to know who was singing. He said that he couldn't believe we were singing in the midst of our troubles. I told Landen right there that if nothing else happened , our family was a witness and a testimony to the nurses and people in the waiting area.

"Good" News

August 6, 2010

We were told that Leightyn's MRI could take up to three hours. That's a long time to wait when it concerns your five year old daughter. During this time, Landen and I went downstairs to get our parent badges. The badges were a reality check. We were no longer there just visiting a child, we were there praying for a miracle for our child. Also during this time, more family members and friends arrived. It was great to have a support group that filled the waiting room.

At one point, my dad went to the hospitality desk and asked for any news on Leightyn. My dad walked back in with a somewhat smile. The hospitality desk had told dad that the nurses had some good news to share. Landen and I went out and talked to the hospitality desk and we were told that maybe it wasn't as bad as they thought and that there was some good news. At that moment, I was able to breathe easier, had a skip in my step, and was on cloud nine.
When we were finally allowed to see Leightyn, I couldn't stop smiling. She was going to make it through and we were going to fight the mass in her head. As Landen and I entered the room, we talked to Leightyn, held her hands, and rubbing her legs. I remember saying "Leightyn, you are gonna make it. Just wake it! Come one Lei, wake up!". I remember the nurses looking at us like we were crazy. None of them had a smile on their faces.
The Dr came in and wanted to talk to Landen and I about the MRI. I just couldn't wait to hear the good news. I don't remember all he told us...just "no blood to the brain, significant brain damage, no hope, nothing could be done, the mass has taken over the brain and caused to much damage". As he talked, I lost it.

This was our conversation
Me: We were told there was good news.
Dr: Good news...I don't know where you heard that
Me: The desk man told us that things weren't as bad and that there was some good news.
Dr:I'm sorry, I have no good news. There is nothing we can do.

We then had the grandparents come in the room for the Dr to share the MRI results with them. Remember....they were all expecting good news also. We had chairs brought in so every one could have a seat. As the Dr talked, the tears flowed and facial expressions quickly changed.
Another PICU Dr came in. He told us that there was a rapid growing aggressive tumor in Leightyn's brain that grew so quick that there was nothing that could be done. If we would have gotten a MRI a month ago, nothing still could have been done. There was no treatment and there was no hope in medicine. Our only hope was a miracle from God. If they were to attempt surgery, the brain had so much damage that if Leightyn was to make it through surgery, she would live in a facility the rest of her life.
The drain tube in her brain was no longer draining. The tumor had pushed the brain against the tube causing the tube to collapse.
The Dr told us that they would be moving Leightyn to another room that would be connected to the conference room. Our family and friends would now be able to visit Leightyn 24 hours a day. The normal policy is parents only.
The next morning the Drs would being a 12 step test to determine if Leightyn had any brain activity. The same test would also be completed 12 hours later to determine brain activity. If she passed the test, the Dr would send her straight to surgery to attempt to remove the mass. If she didn't pass the test, she would officially be pronounced brain dead.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Little Rock Bound

August 6, 2010
After Leightyn left for Little Rock, all of our family and friends went into traveling mode. I had intended on riding with my parents and brother. Landen was riding with his Uncle WeWe. At the last minute, I changed vehicles and went with Landen and WeWe. Landen and I thought we needed to be together in case the hospital called and needed to discuss any types of surgery. We were under the impression that after the drain was placed and the MRI was complete, Leightyn would head straight in to surgery.

While on the road,three Bible verses kept coming to my(our) mind...

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,

who have been called according to his purpose"

Romans 8:28
"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"

Jeremiah 29:11
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with

thanksgiving, present your requests to God"

Philippians 4:6

Children's called (we were somewhere between Ozark and Clarksville) to let us know that Leightyn had landed safely. She was in her room being evaluated by a team of neurologists. This team, would be placing the drain tube in Leightyn's brain. The drain tube was placed in hopes of causing the swelling to go down and relieve the pressure off the brain. Children's called us again (we were in Conway) to let us know that the drain tube had been placed.

When we arrived at Children's, we had to wait at least an hour before we were allowed to see Leightyn in the PICU. When Landen and I finally got to see her, it hit home how bad Leightyn really was. In my head, I knew it was bad, but seeing her in the bed was a nightmare.

Leightyn was still in a comatose state. We thought the nurses had given medicine to sedate Leightyn, but they hadn't. There were tubes, tubes, and more tubes. She was hooked up to all kinds of IVs. She had needles in both arms and both feet. When I looked under the blanket, I couldn't help but laugh. The nurses had put a diaper on Leightyn. I just knew that Leightyn would be upset to be wearing an Elmo diaper!

The PICU Dr came and talked to Landen and I. To be honest, I don't remember a word that she said. After she talked to us, we had her talk to all of the family. Once again, I don't remember a word she said.....only that it didn't look good. After this meeting, Leightyn was sent for a MRI. We were told that the MRI would take two hours to complete and an hour to review the results with the neurologists.

Talk about waiting forever!

Journey At St. Edwards

August 6, 2010
When I found Leightyn, her heart was pounding....I mean pounding! Once in the ambulance, Leightyn had a very very faint heartbeat and was no longer breathing on her own. She was in a comatose state. Leightyn needed no sedation medicine.

Once we arrived at St. Edwards, Leightyn was taken straight back to a room and a family room was ready for us. I guess we should have known it wasn't good news when the family room was provided. I remember seeing Leightyn and thinking "wow....she looks like herself again". Her color was back and I had hoped that she would be waking up soon. After she was "tubed" up, Leightyn was taken back for a ct scan. I knew...I KNEW....it was something with her head and headaches. I was thankful that we would finally be getting some answers and could start treating the problem. While Leightyn was having her scan, I quickly sent out mass emails and facebook messages begging for prayers to go up. The whole situation seemed surreal. Leightyn was there and we were there but it was all like a bad dream.

The Dr. came back and told us that the ct showed a mass on the brain. The Dr were not sure if the mass was a tumor, a bleeding, or nerves bundled up in a ball. Leightyn was going to be sent to Arkansas Children's Hospital to do more testing and treatment. All we could do now was wait for the helicopter to arrive and pray. We prayed and prayed. By this time, word had gotten around and family and friends had all arrived. There were people in the hallway, people in the lobby, people in the family room, and people outside. I thank God for all the ones who came to support us from step one of this journey.

My mom took me to my house so that I could throw some clothes, the computer, Bible, and other necessities in a bag before heading to Little Rock. Once I got back to the hospital, the helicopter had arrived and Leightyn was being prepped for traveling. At this time, Leightyn had no changes since she arrived. She was still not able to breath on her own and was still sedated on her own. Her heart rate did return once she got on oxygen. The Dr from Children's Hospital told us that once Leightyn landed, she would be sent straight to surgery to place a drain tube in her head to reduce the pressure and swelling on her brain. Once the tube had been placed, Leightyn would need a MRI to determine what the mass was and what treatment would be needed.

Every gathered and prayed as Leightyn was in the final steps of prepping for flying. We all walked her out and stood around the helicopter pad. As they loaded her in to the helicopter, we prayed again. As the helicopter took off, the wind from the wings was absolutely mind blowing. We had to brace ourselves from the wind, but it still knocked us around. Landen and I have since referred to the wind "as the angels flapping their wings as they welcome Leightyn home".
I have to tell the story.

It's 3am, reality is setting in, tears are streaming down my face....but I have to tell her story.

My life will never be the same. My broken heart never completely healed.

Oh, Lei Lei, my sweet Lei Lei, I miss you so much. If only I could hold you once more. Kiss you once more. See that sweet smile that could lite up a room......that's my girl.

So bear with me and my ramblings....but, I have to tell her story.

Here's goes....

Two or three months ago, Leightyn (man, how I love that name!), mentioned her head hurting. Well, more like, "my head hurts...wanna go play a game". I never really thought much about it. The headaches started out being a week or so a part. Within the last month to two months, Leightyn would touch the back of her head or throw her head back and say "my head hurts", but it never slowed her down. One night, when she was at Grandad and Jo's, she threw-up. Once again, I thought nothing about it. She had had a snow cone that evening and I figured it made her sick. A few days (maybe weeks) later, she threw-up again. Within, the last six weeks, she would mention her head every couple of days to eventually daily. At her five year check-up, I mentioned it to her doctor. We (and I fully agree with her diagnose) decided it was migraines (symptoms were headaches leading to sick stomach and then she was back to normal) and maybe she also had some anxiety about school starting. Leightyn wanted to go to school, but she made lots of comments about "what if......mommy forgets about me, I have no friends, it's no fun...". Some children deal with anxiety by throwing up....so did Leightyn.

Two weekends ago, Leightyn was sluggish. She was sick, sick, sick. I mentioned to my mom that "Leightyn never seems happy and never wants to smile anymore". I was surprised when my mom said she agreed with me. So, I called the Dr. to see what needed to be done.

The Dr. suggested I keep a headache/throw-up diary to see if we could find a pattern. She also suggested getting Leightyn's eyes tested to make sure her vision wasn't causing the headaches.

August 3, 2010
This past Tuesday, I took Leightyn to the eye Dr. She passed the vision test with flying colors so the Dr decided to dilate her eyes and then retest her. She also passed the vision test while her eyes were dilated. Leightyn had fun seeing "fuzzy things" while her eyes was dilated. She kept asking to do it again and was so proud of her little fake sunglasses they gave her as we left. She wore them with pride!

That afternoon, I called to Dr. to let her know that Leightyn had perfect vision and we decided that our next plan of action should be a more detailed journal of where she was and what she was doing when she gets sick. We needed to find a pattern in the headaches. The Dr mentioned going to Children's Hospital for a MRI but said that I would need to wait a few months while I worked on the journal......we needed a pattern between the headaches and throwing up!

August 4, 2010
Wednesday was an awesome day! We (my dad, mom, brother, Landen, Leightyn, myself, and Mylea) loaded up and took the girls to see Beauty and the Beast in Fayetteville. The girls (once they got over their fears of being on the front row) absolutely loved the show. Leightyn just sat in awe, with a huge smile on her face, singing loudly all the songs, and clapping over and over after the songs.

August 5, 2010
Thursday morning the girls had a dentist appointment. Leightyn was nervous....but, who really likes to go to the dentist?!?!?!?! Afterwards, we met my mom at Sam, and as soon as we got to the front door, Leightyn threw-up. Once she did, she was fine. I figured it was nerves from the dentist and she kept telling us that she was "so hungry". For lunch, we went to Taco Bell (this has been Leightyn's favorite place to eat for the last month). After naps, I had a thing a church so Landen took the girls to the mall to play with their cousins who were in visiting. When I got home, all the kiddos were playing and having a great time. Leightyn was going non-stop. At some point in the evening, I think around 10:30, she took her blanket off her bed and brought it in the living room to snuggle with me while we played Scattergories. Later she said she wanted to go to bed with daddy and off she went.

That night we all (me, Landen, Leightyn, and Mylea) slept in our bed. I am so thankful she was in there with us!

August 6, 2010
A little after midnight, Leightyn woke up crying "my head hurts, it really really hurts". She asked for some medicine so I got up and gave her some Tylenol. About 30 minutes later, she said her tummy hurts and she threw-up. Once she threw-up, she felt better and went back to sleep. This pattern continued for the next 4 hours. About 4:30 Friday morning, Leightyn finally fell asleep. I woke up about 6:30 and Leightyn was sleeping soundly.

Around 8:15 Friday morning, I went in to check on Leightyn and she was still sleeping soundly. I let her sleep and went back to check on her about 10 minutes later. This time she was still asleep but had changed positions in the bed. I called her name trying to see if she wanted to get up. Leightyn raised her head and put it quickly back down. I figured she was still tired from last night so I let her sleep. About 8:30, I went back on to check on her and she had once again moved positions in the bed. I called her name and once again she lifted her head and quickly put it back down. A few minutes later, I went to check in her again and this time I decided to feel her breathing (I thank God that I did!). As soon as I put my hand on her chest, I could feel her heart pounding. It was beating so fast that I thought it could explode. I hollered at Uncle WeWe to come check her (hoping I was just wrong). As soon as he felt her, Uncle WeWe yelled for us to call 911. I grabbed my phone and ran outside.

While on the phone, WeWe carried Leightyn to the couch in the living room. She was pale...really pale. Her fingers were blue. Her lips were starting to turn blue. Her skin was splotchy. When you called out her name, her tongue would flinch but nothing else happened. Her eyes were starting to roll back. Horrible....absolutely terrifying!!

While we waited on the EMS and ambulance to arrive, we carried her out to the driveway. When the came (after what seemed life forever), Landen arrived shortly after them. Once Leightyn received oxygen, her color came back and she looked more like herself. Once Leightyn received a breathing tube, she was rushed to the hospital.

And so our journey begins......