So many of you have commented, emailed, direct messaged and been in contact so many other ways to let me know that you were touched by Ashleigh's story and it is with an absolute broken heart that I'm blogging today to let you know that she passed away Sunday morning with her husband at her side.
After spending an awesome morning on Vail Mountain with Dave and the kids, I pulled out my phone in the car on the way back to the townhouse and read the news.
I felt immediate sadness for her family - her boys David and Noah are only one and two years old. The thought of them growing up without their mom left me with a pit in my stomach. Then my thoughts turned to her husband, Brad, and how he'd lost his partner. His blog post last week about them celebrating their eighth wedding anniversary was one of the most touching things I have ever read and the magnitude of his loss is almost unimaginable.
I only met Ashleigh in May and it was in the most random of circumstances, but I felt an immediate connection to her story and on the way home from meeting her I remember talking to Dave and being almost unable to put into words how strong and inspiring I found her. Through various text conversations over the last couple of months she would throw in throw in these pieces of perspective and insight and I was often left wondering how I would handle a situation like the one she was in. At every turn, every blow and every disappointment she never stopped praising Jesus and never gave up hope.
Throughout the day yesterday as I checked in on Facebook and read through the hundreds of posts on her wall, I was left in awe again. Dozens and dozens of people leaving accounts of her friendship, kindness, strength and passion for Christ. Her legacy was tangible immediately and it left me not saddened, but inspired. The impact and influence that she has had and will continue to have for the Kingdom of God is encouraging and inspiring me to live each day for Him. To not take a moment for granted and to love deeply and strongly.
The following is from her husband's blog post from today:
And the present sting of death is actually a temporary inconvenience. You may know the end of 2 Corinthians 4 from the T-shirt fundraiser:
But what you may not know is what immediately follows it in chapter 5:
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling... So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
And that is Ashleigh. Whether here or in death, her aim was to please God and point people to Him. Her "earthly tent" - her body - was destroyed by cancer. But she is celebrating now in an eternal building built by God. She is enjoying her eternal weight of glory.
If you are wanting to do something for her family...
In lieu of flowers, you can donate to Ashleigh's FirstGiving page to help meet her goal to raise money for IBC research. Or if you'd rather, you can donate to Noah and David's scholarship fund by donating to the email@example.com PayPal account as a friend (if you also have a PayPal account), or you can donate directly here if you don't have a PayPal account.