There are some days I truly believe we each have in which we shall never forget. When it comes to the worlds most amazing 15 year old, I have a few of those…
Mothers Day 1997: “Happy Mother’s Day my love.” That’s what my mom said to cousin Lety on the phone… in which I assume she answered something like this, “Well I’m not a mom yet…” In which I then thought, “Wait!! Lety and Doug are having a baby?!” Insert my excited, high pitch scream here and just so you know it was especially high then because I was only 11. This is also why my parents most likely suffer hearing loss.
November 27, 1997: “Mija. We need to pray.” There is a certain tone in my mothers voice when she says mija. Sometimes, it’s a “Do me a favor…” Other times it’s a “Stop! You’re pissing me off…” she hates the word pissing though, so replace it with a less crass word… But then there is this time. It’s the same “Mija” that speaks with legitimate concern, overwhelming love, and belief in a conquering faith and winning Lord. That was the “Mija” I heard that morning. And we needed to pray. Lety and Doug had their baby– he was born with fluid in his lungs. He’s in very serious condition….
So we prayed. And prayed. I prayed that this tiny baby boy with tubes that laid in a plastic bassinet would one day have faith too, in the God that would save him. I remember getting Lety and Doug’s Christmas letter that year too. Another day that I will never forget as we rejoiced in the healing of their precious miracle, my new baby cousin. The letter went something like this just in case you don’t actually believe that I do indeed remember… “So on Thanksgiving morning while most were up early putting their birds in the oven, we were on our way to the hospital…”
Connor is our turkey baby, so are his younger sisters…but that year, we were just thankful for the miracle of his life.
March 1998. I don’t remember the exact date, but I remember what I wore big surprise. I remember standing in the church and watching this little chubby wubby as holy water sprinkled over his head. I remember smiling. I remember rejoicing. I truly believe his life was the first miracle I can ever remember witnessing. That’s why I remember that day so well. I remember watching him fall asleep in Doug’s arms at Aunt Yo’s house as Lety opened baptism gifts at the reception. I just remember… I just cherish… because in hindsight, I also truly believe that his life was part of God’s mission and plan in my own life to change others for eternity.. more on that in a bit though.
November 2001. This adorable little boy became my shadow, and oh Lawdy do I wish I could find the pictures of him snuggling next to me. That was the coolest love and the most beautiful beginning to a friendship that only some are ever so lucky to have. We’re close, Connor and I. I remember thinking as a fifteen year old that this “kid” was indeed cute, but “Why, WHY!?! must he follow me EVERYWHERE?!” But like I said, what an amazing foundation….
I wrote him letters from South Dakota– I say letters but it was probably more like just one. Still, I felt close to him…and I know he had to feel close to me too. <insert a mild case of sarcasm here>.
And then I moved here. To Virginia. And then I got my job as the middle school director at CPC. And then, CONNOR started middle school.
I begged and pleaded with Lety to allow me to take him with my other kids to The Great Escape that summer.
June 30 2010. That was the day that Connor D. Bradley committed his life to my Savior, my God–the same one that healed him and delivered him through those critical weeks after his birth. I could go on and on about our discussion that night, that night that the two of us shed special tears, holy tears. But I’m not going to because those were our moments. What I am going to say though is that on that day, God used Connor in my faith journey to speak affirmation to my heart, to let me see a glimpse of eternity rejoicing and in the most humble of ways I say this: Because of me. I called my mom and told her a little bit about what happened. To this day, I believe she is the only one who rejoiced as much as Connor and I did at his miracle of meeting Jesus. And again I heard her voice, “Mija–God is so proud of you both.”
July 11, 2011. Another day I will never forget. I haven’t talked about it much on here–those closest to me on the other hand know to well the voice I heard that day. It was the day God said it was time to move on from my ministry at CPC. Rob’s voice still echoes, “You can’t just leave all these kids there…we’re all depending on you.” So I fought the feelings of guilt and especially of Satan and I took in the time, one of the last most spiritual times I would ever have with my kids, my kids. With Connor.
We were in Pittsburgh for our Summer Mission Project. The week today actually seems like a blur. But what isn’t fuzzy is the look he gave me as he saw me crying in the corner away from my group. And he walked towards me, and he hugged me. This 13 year old friend of mine walked away from his friends, to hug me, to tell me he loved me, and to thank me again for introducing him to Jesus, to these moments where he was able to be a servant. And I was fed.
I was fed a little more renewal and a tiny bit more faith. Because on that day, my brother in Christ lifted me higher than I had been in my seven years of youth ministry. And I went on.. That week remains one of the most ordained of all my weeks as a youth minister. And I owe it to Connor, my cousin, but my friend.
November 17, 2012. Connor confirmed his faith. Yes he did. And the holiness, the sacredness of the moment was overwhelming for me. Because you see, as I sat in the pew, rejoicing once again for this miracle that has impacted my life, my spiritual journey, my ministry, I saw each of these days pass once again, so clearly through my mind, in my heart. Once again I cried holy tears. And for the first time in a long time, I cried proud tears as one of “my kids,” confirmed a faith that I prayed so hard he would one day have.
It’s been nine months to the day since I left CPC. And for the first time, since then I acknowledge with humility and thanks the work that God used me for while there. For the first time in a long time, I acknowledge that miracles do happen–that miracles still happen.
November 22, 2012. Out of the clear blue, “Nicole, you know I love you, right?” “I love you too Connor.”
November 27, 2012. Connor turned 15. Connor is the best young man I know. And for those of you laughing because he’s just a typical teenager who slacks on homework, and talks back to his parents, and every now and then gives in to peer pressure, stop. Because he’s no less than a miracle. The most amazing miracle I’ve been so blessed to have a part in.
For you Connor, my non-favorite, favorite cousin, my friend.