Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Leah's Service * UPDATED

Hello All,

The memorial service for Leah will be held on Monday evening, August 3rd at 6:30PM. The service will be held at
the Packinghouse in Redlands. The address is 27165 San Bernardino Ave., Redlands, 92374. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Packinghouse Christian Academy, with a separate note attached indicating that the donation is in Leah's name. All donations will be used to offset tuition costs for families in need.

We pray that this will be a joyous occasion of celebration. All are welcome to attend.

Thank you.

Frank Sanchez

Monday, July 27, 2009

Leah's Service

Hello All,

Many have asked about the memorial service that will soon be held for my sister Leah. I will be able to confirm the precise date and time here on this blog tomorrow. For now, I can confirm that it will be early next week and it will be held at the Packinghouse in Redlands. I pray that those who can, will join us for this celebration of Leah's life.

I wanted also to take a moment to remind you that I have set up a temporary email address, leahmemories@aol.com. Thank you to those who have emailed in. Your memories have been fun to read and sincerely touching to our hearts. Some have even used the address to pass along messages to my Dad and Mom, Mike and Maria, regarding their impact in their lives. That's also been a blessing to read, so feel free to keep those coming as well.

The family is doing well, considering the circumstances, and have been greatly comforted by a great throng of supportive friends. On their behalf, I say "thank you very much."

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, July 24, 2009

Leah Is Home With Jesus

Hello All,

Today is the day of salvation. My sister Leah has fully realized the breadth of her salvation, as she walked into the gates of heaven, this morning at around 7:50AM. There are no more tears, there is no more pain and there she will never experience death again! We praise the Lord today for His promises and the assurance that while we can never have her with us again, we will eventually join her because of the salvation that we have by the grace of God through our faith in His unique Son Jesus Christ, whose Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and directs our lives toward holiness and eventually, Heaven.

I am going to miss my sister's easy laugh, her simple lifestyle and her carefree disposition. She was so fun to be around. I will always remember how we made each other laugh and carried on archival humor to the "umpteenth" degree. One of my great memories was when Leah and I sat at the breakfast table years ago. She was complaining about her arms being disproportionate to her body. One thing led to another and we began talking about making wooden replacements. We laughed until everything hurt. For some reason, it was so funny to us. For Grandma and Mom, who were witnesses to this, it was just funny to watch us laugh! It was from this moment that we began calling her "Woods."

Then the joke just became a part of all of our interactions. We would talk about her planting herself outside among "her woodland kin" at night. When the Lord Of The Rings trilogy came out, we talked about what had to be her favorite scene, when the trees approach to attack Isengard. I think that you get the idea.

Our kids, who had the great privilege of being around her often, referred to her as "Auntie Woods." They would ask, "When is Auntie Woods coming to stay with us?" The truth was she would come whenever we asked her, which was usually about once a month. She would stay the night and hang with us for a while, which was always an adventure.

One of the times that she came out to be with us, a tire flew out of the back of a truck and struck her windshield on the 91 freeway. She got here and her windshield was fully shattered and just teetering on viability. The next time she came out, fires had broken out in Corona, blocking a direct route home. I told her that she was going to have to drive south to the 76 (the 74 was closed) and then cross over to the 15 north. If any of you have driven on that road, you know that it's a lonely road, especially at night. She blew her back tire just before entering the "Cell Phone Dead Zone." She was literally 2 offramps from being completely out of range! That was a long night, but even that became a great source of entertainment for both of us.

The kids loved having Auntie Woods here. She played with them, took pictures with them and let them wake her up at the most ungodly hours of the morning. She always showed such great love for each of them, and I am so thankful that they were the recipients of that great love.

My sister had the distinction of not just being the only sister in the brood, but she was also the only sibling with whom I never fought! That's pretty tremendous if you know how bull headed I am! As I think about it, Leah was also distinctive in the fact that she alone graduated from High School without any drama! Then, she is the only one of us to finish her Bachelors degree, and that, from the University of Redlands! I remember sitting there that day, a few years ago, being so proud when they called her name, but also wishing that she could have graduated in the Spring! GEEZ IT WAS HOT!!

There are so many other memories. Trips that we took, things we laughed about, trouble that we watched others get in. I have 25 years of memories that I will always keep in the forefront of my mind. Today however, I am asking for you, her friends and associates, to help me memorialize her. I have set up a new email address, leahmemories@aol.com, and am asking you to email your stories, memories pictures and adventures with Leah there. I want to use some of it for the memorial that will happen soon, but I also want to share it here, as well as with my family. If you would do that, it would be a great blessing.

Thank you all for your care and concern, both for us and for our sister Leah.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Update On My Sister Leah's Condition

Hello All,

For those of you who have not heard, my sister Leah is in the hospital, having suffered initially from a condition called a "Thyroid Storm." I had never heard of it before it hit Leah, but the gist of it is that the thyroid over produces and blitzes the senses of the body. At present, she is in critical condition in the ICU of a hospital near our family home in Colton. Her prognosis is not good and we continue to ask for prayer through every outlet possible.

We learned of Leah's condition as we were leaving from Family Camp just 10 days ago. She had been admitted to the hospital the Thursday prior, 2 days before. When we got to the hospital, we assumed that she was suffering from an advanced form of the flu and would simply need a few days to recover. Immediately upon getting to the hospital, the severity of what had come upon Leah began to dawn upon us. She was lucid, but definitely not right. She was dizzy and a bit disoriented and had a fever that had not abated for several days. We were worried, but did not consider this to be life threatening until later that day.

The words "Thyroid Storm" had been uttered by one of the nurses during our visit. We came home and Googled it. The alarming statistic that jumped off of the page was that those who did not catch this in time had a 90 percent mortality rate! From this point on, we wondered if Leah had caught this in time. Shortly after our visit, Leah was put under sedation and put on a ventilator to help facilitate her breathing, which a nasty cough had begun to interrupt.

From where we have been standing, this was done to help fight off the infection that was present in her body and to allow her to heal. Unfortunately, at some point, this became more than a preventative measure and has now become full life support.

In the middle of this, Leah suffered a massive ischemic stroke. Just this past Sunday, I went to see my sister and was completely overwhelmed at her condition. Monday, I was called and told about the extent of the stroke. Tuesday I was again called and invited to a meeting with the doctors to discuss how our family would like to proceed in light of Leah's condition. I returned Wednesday to attend the meeting with the Doctors. Leah was given a 10% chance of survival and if she does, only a 10% chance that she will ever exist out of a vegetative state. Today, I go in to see my sister, perhaps for the last time on Earth.

This journey has been surreal and absolutely bizarre. For many of you who are aware of loss and how it affects you, I don't need to tell you about the feelings. Some days, in this situation, there have been causes for hope and then just as quickly causes for dread. It's amazing to me that I can carry on a conversation, or play with my kids and completely get swept away in that. And then, immediately after completing either the conversation or the playing, my mind and heart race back toward thoughts and prayers for my sister. I go to sleep praying for her and the second that I wake up, that conversation continues as if it hadn't stopped. I alternate between the good memories of 25 years and the deep sadness that there is in the awareness that there may not even be 25 more hours!

Thankfully, I do not grieve without hope. Our family is strong in it's belief that Leah is in the hands of Jesus Christ and that when she dies, she will immediately be comforted for eternity in the arms of her Savior. She loves the Lord and will soon be with her. I have confronted the same questions that everyone does and am thankful that the Lord has answered them to my heart's satisfaction. He has met me in my laughter and now, He has met me in my grief.

We ask for your prayers, first, that the Lord would deal mercifully with Leah. Second, for our family, as we deal with the potential loss of a treasured family member. But most importantly, pray for the glory of God that WILL shine through, either through miraculous intervention or by godly testimony.

Thank you for all your prayers and support. It has meant a great deal to us.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Saturday, July 04, 2009

He Said "Surely"

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever."
Psalm 23:6
Hello All,

I run the risk of trivializing Holy Scripture with a current sports analogy, but I hope that you might indulge me for a paragraph or two. Recently, the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic for 2008-2009 NBA World Championship. To say that I was elated is to diminish my excitement! I have been a Laker fan since 1980 when they beat the Philadelphia 76ers. I have watched the ups and downs and enjoyed the ride.

This last championship run, I watched most of the games as they happened, though I admit that I watch them through an open hand, sort of like kids do when they watch scary movies. They want to see it all, but the pressure is almost too much. It's the same with me and the playoff games as they happen. Will they win or lose? Will it be a heartbreaker? Truthfully, my heart can barely handle the pressure.

But then, in just about 2 months from the end of the finals (July 14th to be exact), I will be watching the highlights of the playoffs on the year end DVD. By then, watching the games will be a very different experience. There will be enjoyment of every play, even an appreciation and admiration of the "enemy" players. All the drama will be simulated and accentuated by music, but the outcome, the true source of tension, will be established. No matter how the game appears, the end is determined.

Perhaps our lives are much like this. Here is where the scripture comes in.

Recently I decided to spend the day studying Psalm 23. As is usual with familiar passages, most of the phrases and words have been studied and dissected. However, in the wonder of God's Word, there is always a timely piece that brings meaning and encouragement, perhaps more than it's whole. The verse that I zeroed in on is verse 6. David writes, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

Notice the certainty: "Surely." There is not a shred of doubt in this verse. It's a given, a promise, a guaranteed condition for those who have joy in their relationship to their Shepherd. It's a human condition to waver and doubt, but upon full analysis, one comes to the conclusion that there is nothing more sure than God's benevolent hand delivering His to the greatness of "goodness and mercy."

This does not mean that there are not questionable moments along the way. This does not negate the questions of the moment, which are often asked along the journey. "Where are you in this?" or "Why is this happening?" The paralysis of our hearts is in the moment when we are right in the middle of a story that God is writing and that we are living. It's there where the pressure mounts and we can hardly stand to anticipate anything good.

But David knew: "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life."

As I look back that has been the case over and over again. Whether it was a personal crisis or a professional one, goodness and mercy have followed me. They will continue to be by-products of my walk with the Lord.

I was thinking the other day about an exchange that I have witnessed several times. It's the family gathering where a Father and Mother sit with their now grown children and talk with great humor about all that had gone before. "Remember when we didn't have any food in the cupboards...," "Remember when his hair lit on fire...," "And then she swallowed a whole pack of gum." All such moments had proved stressful when they happened. There were crises of faith, tests of determination to trust in the Lord's goodness. In those moments, as they happened, there were cries of doubt and fear. However, as the years pass and the moment passes with it, there is a joy in the remembrance.

How is that possible? God's goodness and mercy flowed out and answered the crisis and answered the questions that once plagued the mind. Looking back reveals that God proved Himself faithful again, quieting our anxious hearts and minds and giving joy and rest in it's place.

Today, on the cusp of uncertainty, no matter the circumstance, we can remind ourselves that it's a foregone conclusion that only time keeps from us: Goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives.

Thank you Lord for being our Shepherd.

Blessings...To Our Friends...And Fellow Sheep!,
Frank Sanchez