Monday, April 7, 2008

Vanessa

***UPDATED (4/9): I wanted to take a second to thank you for praying for our church and ask that you continue to do so. The funeral service today was a beautiful celebration of Vanessa's life. The glory of God's presence was so overwhelmingly abundant in our sanctuary that it overshadowed the devastating grief. And as I watched the entire staff, along with Vanessa's husband, intimately worshipping the Lord in the midst of heartbreak, I have never been more proud to call Fellowship Church my home. Her fingerprints on our church are proof that Vanessa will never be forgotten and the work she started will continue through those she has inspired. ***

I was going to write a silly post about our weekend experience at NASCAR, but have decided to delay it in light of recent events that take precedence.

My heart is so heavy right now as our church grieves the unexpected loss of Vanessa Whitwell. Despite only being in her mid thirties, she has been a fixture on staff at Fellowship for many years and has served in everything from the worship ministry to the women's ministry (and pretty much everywhere else in between.) Please join me in prayer for her husband, family, our pastor and his family, church staff, congregation and all who have been touched by her life.

There is no mistaking that the grief will be immense. Yet, there is undeniable power in knowing that we do not grieve like those without hope. And I dare say that nobody understands the source of that hope better than Vanessa at this very moment, standing in the presence of her loving Father.

Although I've known Vanessa in many capacities over the last eight years, I will most remember her as a person that loved God regardless of her circumstances. And despite the dark days that lie ahead, I know that her husband Andy will continue to live out that legacy, as well.

Jesus,
I pray that as those who love Vanessa pass through the waters, they will not be overtaken. I ask that grief not overshadow the fact that she has gone HOME to be with you eternally. Please use her death as an extension of the ministry you gave her on earth, allowing this time of heartache to bring others into a personal relationship with you. Thank you for drawing close to the hearts of the brokenhearted, binding up wounds. Please grant Andy peace that passes all understanding.
Guard and protect the hearts of our church and help us to lean not on our own understanding. I praise you for Vanessa's life.

10 comments:

Deidre said...

"....we do not grieve like those without hope"....thank you, Lord for the promise of heaven.

Praying for your church, this family and you as you minister to the family.

Ingram Gang said...

I am so saddened by Vanessa's passing. Praying for everyone!

Jeff and Lindsey said...

I read about this on the Ed Young blog and then saw your post. I didn't realize that was your church!

I am praying for you all and especially her husband. It seems so young, but we have to trust God and his timing. It sounds like she was an incredible woman that will be sorely missed, but her heart is free now to be with her Father...what an incredible blessing to know without a shadow of a doubt that she is with him now.

Kelly said...

I'm so sorry for the loss. Just a remind that life is so short and we aren't promised tomorrow. I pray we all realize that each day is a gift and use it for things that really matter!

CPT Mom said...

Praying for your friends.

David Campbell said...

I first met Vanessa in Choir at Harwood Junior High. She was a couple years older than me, and just beautiful. After the mission trip to Brazil, she asked me to do a promo for FC. That was such a fun, silly time. My heart is so heavy, but not without hope. I praise God for that sweet hope. I have been meaning to email you, but just didn't have the right words. Thanks for this sweet tribute.
Love,
Keri

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