Monday, January 16, 2017

Meals on Wheels

As you may know, the meal schedule for the Lee family is still active (and filled)! Thank you.

Meg Kelly has graciously offered to help me send out reminders to people a day in advance, since many of you signed up weeks ago. I'll try to keep the number of adults in the household updated, though I encourage you to verify that number closer to your date in case anything changes. If you want Meg to send you a reminder the day before, please include your contact info (either email or phone call or text) and she will do so. I will adjust the meal schedule as needed. Thanks for your continued love and support of the Lee family.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Celebrating the Life of Ava Bright Lee

(From Esther):

We have continuously been blown away by the extent of love and support we've received. During a time of intense grief and loneliness, we have been entirely surrounded by the lavish love of God.

Thank you for joining us at Ava's memorial services on site and online. Our prayer has always been to give God all that He deserves, which is our praise and our whole selves, even when it comes at a sacrifice.

The pain is great and we anticipate it to increase as reality sets in and we learn to face the rest of our lives without Ava. In a sense, our journey has just begun. But this is a race we have been preparing for, much like a runner trains for months before the big day.

These past few years, you have been our trainers. You have never stopped encouraging us, feeding us with truth and love, coaching us, praying for us, running with us, and getting us ready for this day.

Thank you from the bottom of our broken hearts.

As we begin the first steps into this new race, we will keep our eyes on the finish line. It will be a glorious ending, no doubt. We will run faithfully, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but never giving up. For we know who awaits us when we cross into heaven: Jesus.
And, perhaps, as we are running fast in the final moments of our lives, we will see Ava also running toward us, hand in hand with Jesus.

(You may wish to skip through the first 8 minutes of black screen before the service starts).

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Live countdown!

Thanks for your patience! We welcome all who loved Ava to join us via live stream for Ava's Memorial Service at this YouTube Channel. See you there!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Parking Info for Saturday

The plan is for Ava's memorial service to live stream on YouTube. Information on how to join is still pending. We'll post the information as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience.

For those attending on site at Willow Creek North Shore on Saturday, you'll want to park/enter through Entrance A or D (the entrances are next to each other, as the building is circular).

Thanks for your continued prayers for the Lee family.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

RSVP Deadline

Hi Friends and Family,

In order to plan for our service, we ask that anyone who plans on attending the service please RSVP by tonight. Please note that the service will be held at the Willow Creek North shore location in Glenview.

For those of you who already RSVP'd, we look forward to seeing you. For the rest of you joining us via live stream, we feel honored to have you celebrate Ava's life with us, as you have sent much love and prayers on our family's behalf these past three years. We hope to post information about how to join us via live stream by Friday.

We ask that everyone come to the service dressed in whatever colors they feel comfortable in. Mike and I will not be wearing all black.

In lieu of flowers, here is a list of three organizations/causes that we fully support:

1. Target Pediatric AML Project

2. Dr. Colleen Delaney's Cord Blood Research: Be sure to indicate that your donation is "In Memory of" Ava Bright Lee to ensure all the donated funds go to Dr. Delaney's work.
3. Cal's Angels Foundation

Looking forward to worshipping with you,

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Memorial Fund

A Memorial Fund has been set up for people to direct monetary gifts to the Lee family. It's actually the same YouCaring site/link that was created over a year ago (and has been listed on the blog under "Ways to Help"), but has been updated with more current information.

For those who are interested in donating miles, points, (even timeshares?) for the Lee family to use on a future trip to Asia, please contact Hannah at: 

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ava's Memorial Service - Please RSVP

As previously mentioned, Ava's Memorial Service will be two weekends from now.

Ava's Memorial Service
Date: Saturday, January 14th
Time: 1pm
Location: Willow Creek North Shore
                   2200 Shermer Rd.
                   Glenview, IL 60026

For now, there will be a private service on Friday (Jan 13th) for family and close friends. However, if it looks like the Saturday service will likely fill to capacity, we will consider opening up the 13th as well to accommodate more friends.

While Willow Creek North Shore church can accommodate over 1,000 people, we know that Ava's story has touched exponentially more. Due to limited seating, the service on Saturday will be open to those who personally know Ava and the Lee family: Mike, Esther, Uncle David, Uncle Matt, and the Lee grandparents. To help us get a scope on the numbers attending, please RSVP at this link to help us better assess what is needed.

If you saw and already RSVP'd on the Facebook Event page created earlier this evening, please RSVP again at the new link above. The Facebook Event page didn't allow people to RSVP for more than just themselves, and required guests to have a FB account to do so. This new page will also allow friends to RSVP regrets and include a message if desired. Thanks for your help, patience and understanding.

From Esther and Mike

(Esther's post on Team Brighter Days FB page):

Since I have no words, I am posting Mike's letter to our church in hopes that it will be an encouragement to you. We know many share in the deep ache of missing our girl, Ava Bright. Though it is tempting for us to lay down and give up, we look to the example of our sweet girl during her last moments on earth.

She galloped toward the finish line, even when the oxygen no longer reached her lungs - until the final beat of her heart.

It will be my absolute privilege and honor to, one day, share about Ava's last few hours before going to heaven. For now, we look to God to provide the very next breath of air so that we do not suffocate under this heavy blanket of sorrow.

Thank you for your continued prayers for us and for our girl, Gwen, who has been profoundly impacted by the loss of her sister. She cries out with us and lays in bed with us, understanding the depth of this experience in a way many children her age could not. That is how strong their bond was. I am so thankful that she was able to experience that kind of love.

We will also include the tentative schedule for the memorial services below. We look forward to celebrating Ava's life with everyone who loved her.


Dear Family,

Esther and I, and many times Gwen, have been huddled in our room for the past four days weeping and crying out. Jude simply has no idea what is going on. Esther and I have been counseling each other, needing so much help from each other to deal with the endless sources of pain and sadness. Some measure of solace comes from the fact that Ava herself, less than a month ago, asked God to stop the suffering, saying that she wanted to go home. In God's mercy, grace, and love for her, He answered her prayer to the contrary of countless thousands that were asking that she be healed and remain here.

We may always suffer the confusion of why she has suffered illness all throughout her life, and why the disease was allowed to persist till the end. But we rejoice in her being taken up by God out of this world and into His own embrace. Ava lived in such a way that has reached the core of what truly matters to me and what doesn't. For she kept suffering with such perseverance and continued to care deeply for her loved ones and show kindness to all people. She did this even when it was so hard to take one step or even a satisfying breath of air.

It has been extremely difficult also to fight against the many regrets, failures, and missed opportunities we have had with her over these eight years, given how truly precious she is. We've even been battling against the conclusion that we somehow caused this terrible and ceaseless suffering upon her. Esther has been especially good to me in helping me fight against that.

Our lives have been overturned. It's not just because we occupied so much of ourselves with her basic need to survive in the face of a barrage of attacks against her life. But it's also the Christlike character that God infused into her, from the beginning of her life to the final beat of her heart. All of this makes her absence so deafening.

Yet we are beckoned to align ourselves with the irrefutable result of all of this: the glory of Jesus Christ. Despite how we feel, God has been and will continue to be glorified. We conclude that this must be the point of all her struggles, and we believe that her passing will somehow also be used for God's honor and glory.

Our sorrowful state will likely evolve, as someone told us that this kind of grief is not linear but a journey of lots of ups and downs. Yet the Lord is worthy of all our praise, including the kind that comes out of horrifying pain.

Thank you for being the church that we can worship our God with, in every mindset and every phase of life. We love you. Worshiping our Heavenly Father is what we need to do and what we long to do, knowing that our connection with Jesus is the only hope we have to persevere through this. So we hope to see you at church on Sunday, and want you to know that starting this evening, Esther and I will be attending the OIL Retreat in Wheaton so that we can be filled up and unite ourselves with corporate worship right away.

Nothing is the same anymore. But God is the same.

With fresh determination in her steps, Ava enters into His heavenly house of worship, lifting her joyful hands to our good, good Father.

Looking heavenward,



Ava's Memorial Service - preliminary info

Thank you for everyone's patience. Details are still being discussed, but Ava's memorial service will be two weekends from now, January 13th (private service) and the14th.

Due to limited seating, the service on the 14th will be open to those who personally know Ava and the Lee family: Mike, Esther, Uncle David, Uncle Matt, and the Lee grandparents.

For now, the service on the 13th will be a private service for family and close friends. However, if the 14th fills to capacity, we will consider opening up the 13th as well. Please RSVP as soon as possible to the Facebook Event posted here to help us organize.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
Mike and Esther

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ava's Memorial Service - preliminary info

Thank you for everyone's patience. Details are still being discussed, but Ava's memorial service will be two weekends from now (Jan 13/14), with Friday night being a private service.

It is a wonder how far and wide Ava's story has spread; people from all over the globe have prayed, wept and supported Ava and the Lee family - family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. However, in order to keep attendance at a reasonable number, we humbly ask that the Saturday service be limited to guests who actually knew Ava and the Lee family: Mike, Esther, Uncle David, Uncle Matt, the Lee grandparents. (We know this will still be a lot of people). Everyone else is invited and encouraged to join in via live stream. (More details to come on how to do that). We may create a Facebook event page for people to rsvp in order to get a ballpark idea on numbers. Thanks for your understanding and help.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

In the Presence of His Glory

As many of you already know from Esther's FB post, Ava is in the presence of Jesus. We wonder what joyful things she is doing: singing praises with the angels, worshiping her Heavenly Father, dancing and using her pain-free legs, laughing and being free of wires, ports and tubes... perhaps even knowing all sorts of things that remain a mystery to us on this side of heaven.

Despite the comfort of knowing that she is in the best place ever, the sorrow she leaves behind is real and deep. Mike & Esther have so appreciated your partnership in their journey, from near and far, friends and strangers. However, please respect the Lee family's desire and need to grieve privately at this time. Details about the memorial service will be shared according to their desires when it is decided.

At this time, the meal schedule will resume as originally planned, daily meals delivered to the Lee home. Frequency may be adjusted as needed.

Thanks for your continued prayers for the Lee family. While we rejoice that Ava is done battling cancer and is free of disease, the family she leaves behind is beginning a different kind of marathon. Thanks in advance for continuing to pray for them.