Ashley's Story

She will leave fingerprints all over your heart


Stretcher Bearers

I'm reading a book this week that was sent to me by a couple of ladies from home. I have never met them, but they know Dave and they sent a package with him to Omaha last week. I finished it today and the words inside of this book brought new meaning to me as our family continues this journey with our sweet Ashley. The name of the book is When I Lay My Isaac Down. I knew instantly that I would love this book. What a beautiful title! It is about unshakable faith in unthinkable circumstances and I will no doubt read it over and over again.

As I read page after page I would say to myself, "I needed to hear that." As the author made comparison to Abraham's faith in his God I would say to myself, "I need to have that."

One chapter in particular is called "Stretcher Bearers". While I read this chapter I was reminded by the author of a story in Luke that I remember learning as a child in Sunday school. I even remember coloring a picture and gluing the man onto his stretcher to take home with me. I hadn't thought about this story in many, many years, but as I read through this book it took on new meaning to me. Jesus was speaking one day and he was surrounded by a multitude of people. The crowd was so great that you couldn't even get through the door of the house to see him. A man who was crippled by a palsy was carried on a stretcher to the place where Jesus was. The part that touched my heart like never before was this, he was carried. By whom? Who would pick up this man who could not walk and make sure that he made it all the way to the One whom he believed could heal him? Not only did those "bearers" of his stretcher take him to the house where Jesus was, but they went to extraordinary means to make sure he got to see Jesus. The Bible tells us that when they could not enter the house because of the crowd they took the man onto the roof and moved the tiles so that they could lower him into the midst where Jesus was. When Jesus saw their faith he told the man, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." The man was healed. How beautiful! To have friends like that! To have a group of those surrounding you who would pick you up and carry you to Him when your could not reach Him on your own. They were literally his stretcher bearers. They bore the weight of his burden and carried it to Jesus for him.

Before Ashley Kate's birth I would have never seen this part of the beauty of this story. I saw that Jesus healed this man. I saw that his faith made him whole, but I missed the part about his friends. Those who got him to Jesus. I think this part of the story is beautiful! Oh, to be that type of friend. I may have never felt the importance of the role that these "bearers" played in this man's life. Now I can say that through her life, her struggle, her battles, and her triumphs I know exactly what those stretcher bearers must have meant to this man. I have been picked up and carried to Him. My burden which seems so heavy some days as though it might crush me is carried to Jesus by those of you who chose to come along side of me and carry my "stretcher". When you are given the opportunity to see those around you become the physical hands and feet of Jesus you will be forever changed. I pray that I will not forget what He has taught me though each one of you. I pray that I will someday in someway be able to do the same for others. What a blessing this book has been to me the last couple of days.

The ways that you have carried our stretcher are so very numerous. I always fear that I will fail to mention my appreciation for some act of kindness toward us and that someone may wonder if it were received. Tonight I want to say that first and foremost your prayers have changed our lives. The burden that you pick up and carry for us on a daily basis is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for us. In addition to those prayers you allow yourselves to meet our needs or comfort our hearts in tangible ways as well. Without your support it would be impossible for us to survive this season of Ashley's story. How humbled I am each time I receive a note, a card, a letter, a story, a word of encouragement, or a gift from you. Please allow me to say thank you to and for :

the lovely trees of fall created by my sisters first and second grade classes. Ashley loves the trees and the many colored leaves. I love your notes of encouragement. Thank you boys and girls.

those who sent me this book. I was so encouraged and blessed.

the one who sent the "HUG" last week. It is beautiful and I love it.

the adorable hair items that were sent to us girls. I never found your name anywhere on the package, but I want you to know we loved them!

my sweet friend who stopped by tonight a gave me the opportunity to "snuggle up close" to my family as I drift off to sleep. I still cry each time I glance over at it. Thank you.

those who joined in prayer for us last night. Ashley was weaned off of her oxygen this afternoon and no one can explain why or how? (That always makes me smile.) Your prayers spoke to my heart.

each one who gladly accepts the difficult task of "bearing our stretcher" on those days when I am too crippled to take myself to the place I need to be. I know what a tough job that is.

Tonight I just want to say Thank you again. Thank you for loving us. For praying for us. For carrying us. For "bearing our stretcher" in the many ways that you do. I do thank God for you and for your presence in our lives and in her story. Good night my friends. Trish


At 10:40 PM , Blogger The Rutland Family said...

You should write a book. The way you put things into perspective is a gift straight from God. I originally began checking on your family daily to see how I can pray for you that day,but now, I also check in to be uplifted. I can tell you are an amazing person just through your writings. I know this journal is an outlet for you, but it is an inspiration for me. Thank you for sharing about the "stretcher bearers". I hope that everyone that reads this is as touched as I. God Bless! Because He lives, we CAN face tomorrow!

At 4:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trish, Thank you so much for the kind words and the lesson that came along with it. What a privlege it is to walk beside your family on this journey with Ashley. May we all continue to be strecher bearer's through life. Great news about the oxygen. Praying for a wonderful day for you and Ashley. Continuing to hold your sweet pickle and your family up in prayer. God Bless..Karen.

At 4:45 AM , Anonymous prayer Mom said...

After finding you and your family online, we your prayer team, could no more ignore your need than you can ignore Ashley. It is something we just have no choice but do. We could not escape even if we wanted to. It has been years since a prayer burden has driven me like this one does. A devine obsession that lets me know only in God's perfect service am I at peace. Expect miracles. This is only the beginning.

At 5:34 AM , Anonymous heidi said...

I don't much about religion other than my belief that He takes care of us. Is there also a story about the lessons and blessings the Stretcher Bearers received from their work?
My perspective on life has changed, their is such a gift felt when reaching out to others.
Thank you Trish for sharing and allowing us to share.
Prayers in CT.,

At 5:57 AM , Blogger KimberlyDi said...

Don't forget that you are a stretcher bearer yourself for Ashley.

At 6:39 AM , Blogger Elizabeth S said...

We are glad to be your "stretcher bearers", but I also wanted to point out that YOU are Ashley's stretcher bearer. When I was reading your post, I thought, "Ashley is so blessed to have such faithful, persevering stretcher bearers." Thanks for blessing me today.

At 7:09 AM , Blogger Sun said...

I would LOVE to send something to you but I don't have an updated address/room number for Ashley. I think I will just put it in the mail this weekend to the address in Texas. I am so glad you feel lifted up - what a beautiful way to look at our jobs as parents in general...we lift our kids up and carry them to the only One who can deliver them from their terminal disease of sin. Sunshine

At 7:22 AM , Blogger Susan said...

I agree with Pam! You should write a book. God shines so beautifully through your words.

Ashley was so precious in the pictures you posted earlier! Look how long those sweet little legs are! But it is those cheeks that I am just dying to pinch. My little girl also has cheeks like that, and I love them to pieces!

Have a great day! I pray that today will be better than yesterday and that tomorrow will always be even better than today.

Love and hugs to you all!

At 7:26 AM , Blogger Laurie said...

Trish, You are the one who is a blessing to me, your love for Ashley and every breath she takes. It is such a blessing to pray for your family and to see the Lord working in your lives. I am humbled by your example of unconditional love. Ashley is so precious to God and to all of us. She teaches me not to sweat the small stuff in my life, and it's all small stuff. I am praying she continues to heal and that you can be packing up to go home soon.
Blessings to you today,
Laurie in Ca.

At 7:30 AM , Blogger Michelle J said...

Trish, you are quite eloquent in your writings to us. I am so very happy to see Ashley in her walker. She looks beautiful.
Your faith has healed you, go in peace and be freed from your suffering (Mark 5:34).

At 7:33 AM , Blogger Gretchen said...

Gee, Trish, are you writing devotionals in your spare time? :) Because that will serve as mine for today. Beautiful. I'd be your stretcher bearer any time. ((((hugs))))

At 7:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems there is a lot of "stretcher bearing" going on. As I was reading your post, I was only thinking of you and your family bearing Ashley's stretcher.
Then, in your wonderfully, kind way, you turned it around to others bearing your stretcher. Again I have been blessed by you, Ashley and your faith in our loving God.

Stacey in Cave Spring, GA

At 8:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like I prayed for Ashley in a new way this time. I prayed that the strong holds would be broken and that a permanent miracle would take place...Thanks Prayer Mom for calling us together. We need to do this on a regular basis as a body of Christ. Praise our Great God, the God of Heaven and Earth! I cannot praise Him enough for His miracle for Ashley. Have a sunny day, Colleen

At 8:23 AM , Anonymous Grandma said...

Trish, this was just beautiful - you are so right - Ashley would not be where she is in her development were it not for stretcher bearers and we have seen the results through miracle after miracle that God has graciously given. What a mighty God we serve and I, too, am so thankful for each and every person who goes to their knees for Ashley and the family! Where would any of us be without the family of God? I see so much growth in you and your walk with Jesus through Ashley's Story, as well as with David, Blake, Allie, and the rest of the family and also those who are reading the journal. I'm so thankful today as she has progressed off the oxygen! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Our prayers continue for our little one and I'm so honored and priviledged to be able to lift her up to the Great Physician. Love and Hugs, Grandma

At 9:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I read this post...I immediately thought about how you and Dave, Blake and Alli, Nan and Grandma and the rest of your immediately family that are carrying the stretcher that Ashley lay on. Wow....I am like you....that story took on a whole new meaning as you journaled about it. Thank you for sharing with us and bringing a new meaning to a bible story to so many of us today. God Bless you and Praise God that Ashley is off oxygen today. He is so GREAT!!!!!!!!!!

At 9:17 AM , Blogger Sarah's In the Midst of It said...

What a blessing to have so many friends! Every time I read your thank yous to people who've creatively helped you, it gives me ideas! I'm so glad Ashley is breathing better, and our family continues to pray for a quick recovery, so you two can go home!

At 9:29 AM , Blogger Amy T said...

Trish, that is one of my favorite stories. And for some reason, it has come up at least three or four times in the past few weeks. You are right. So often we miss how it was the faith of the friends that brought the man to Jesus to be healed. It reminds us that even those close to the Lord need lifting up and prayer. So glad your family has been blessed because y'all have definitely blessed us! And terrific news about the oxygen! You go Ashley!

At 10:54 AM , Anonymous April in Colorado said...

It's amazing to see your thanks posted in words. It is I who thank you for your generosity in sharing the journey, the answered prayers, the faith, the strength, the grace, the mercy, the have displayed a miraculous amount of all the above and taught me what the love of Christ really looks like. I cannot have children of my own and yet I often feel that God has fully allowed me to glimpse into motherhood from every aspect...well, almost every aspect.

I don't know that, if before you, I could have been thankful for such challenge and such struggle and such emotional demand. I still don't know if I could. But you, Trish, have shown me that it can be done.

And Ashley Kate, you amaze me every day with your strength and your continued determination to just keep on going despite the attachments to that darned hospital bed. All things can be conquered and you are proof, little one. It may take several efforts, but it is true.

I continue to pray for all of you each and every day. And I continue to thank God for you!

At 1:33 PM , Blogger Daffodil Hill said...

I LOVE that book, too! And I love my own stretcher-bearers. You are so right that it is in the most difficult circumstances that we see the face and hands of God most clearly. Even in the hardest times, He is good! {{hugs and prayers}}


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